Marriott decides to drop petition to block Wi-Fi Hotspots

Hospitality major Marriott has decided against proceeding with a petition it filed with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in August 2014 to allow it block guests from using their personal Wi-Fi devices, mainenewsonline.com reported.

The hotel chain would now no longer block Wi-Fi signals at any hotel it managed for any reason, according to Bruce Hoffmeister, global chief information officer for Marriott said in a statement to eWEEK.

Explaining the reason for blocking Wi-Fi hotspots at one of its properties in 2014, Hoffmeister said the company's intent was to protect personal data in WiFi hotspots for large conferences.

He added the hotel thought it was doing the right thing in asking the FCC to provide guidance, but the FCC had indicated its opposition. The blocking happened in conference areas, and not in guest rooms.

In a 30 January, 2015, statement, Marriott made it clear that it would not block guests' access to Wi-Fi.

The hotel had to pay a $600,000 fine after the FCC's investigation found that the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee, breached the laws meant to stop deliberate interference (See: FCC fines Marriott $600,000 for blocking customers' Wi-Fi).

In a press release, the company said that Marriott International believed in listening to its customers and trying everything to live up to their expectations, which was the reason the company had decided not to block guests from using their personal Wi-Fi devices at any of its managed hotels.

Only a couple of days back the Federal Communications Commission issued a warning that the practice is illegal, USA Today reported.

Marriott and the American Hotel and Lodging Association and Ryman Hospitality Properties petitioned the FCC last summer to clarify whether or not hotels could disable guests' ability to use their mobile phones as personal Wi-Fi hotspots in their conference centres. According to Marriot letting people use Wi-Fi hotspots could put hotels at risk of cyberattacks.

"We have withdrawn our petition to the FCC on cybersecurity – an initiative we thought was the right thing to do," Marriot CEO Arne Sorenson wrote in an Influencer post on LinkedIn. "However, in the face of disagreement from both regulators and our customers, we see that the effort was doomed."