Thursday, January 15, 2015

Go home Marriott, Hilton, AHLA you're drunk

You've probably already heard about Marriott being fined by the FCC for intentionally jamming wifi signals at one of its properties.  Marriott claimed they weren't motivated by profit, but by the desire to protect consumers from rogue access points.  By jamming any access point that wasn't theirs, they ensured that you only connected to their slow Internet that they reportedly charged vendors between $250 and $1000 to connect to.  Nope, profit wasn't the motive - security was.

After the fine, the hotel trade association got together with Marriott and has petitioned the FCC to clarify rules around jamming wifi signals. 

The hotel association apparently thinks that the people who run the FCC are brain dead slugs. Otherwise, there's no way they would try to pull garbage as noted in this NY Times piece.
"Marriott and the hotel association say that if the commission rules against them, some hotels might prohibit guests from checking in with Wi-Fi devices or restrict such equipment from some parts of their properties, a move that would only alienate their customers."
Yeah, that's stupid. But not the dumbest quote I could find regarding the situation.  The American Hotel & Lodging Association weighed in on this as well.
“Hotels are responsible for ensuring that vital personal data and information is protected, and need some flexibility in using tools that help protect that data without fear of legal penalty,” said Katherine Lugar, chief executive of the American Hotel & Lodging Association.
This has to be some of the dumbest rationale I've ever heard.  The argument in short is that they should be allowed to jam Wifi signals so they don't run the risk of alienating customers?  Earlier this week, Rendition Infosec let Marriott know that we actively avoid the use hotel wifi and we'd feel very alienated if Marriott (or any other chain) were blocking our wifi hotspots.  Apparently Marriott listened to us and other consumers since they reversed their ridiculous position on blocking wifi hotspots yesterday.

But in case you think we're just picking on Marriott here, Hilton also supports this. Even though Marriott has reversed their decision, the request for clarification is still pending with the FCC.  We'll see how this plays out, but if you want to read some interesting comments like "the impact of deauthentication will not be as draconian as some commenters suggest" check out this filing.