Marriott International said Wednesday that it will no longer seek permission to block
other WiFi networks within its meetings and convention spaces.
The hotel company had faced criticism in its attempt to get
regulatory clearance to block WiFi networks in meetings areas for the purpose of
protecting guests’ Internet security. Marriott said it will talk to the Federal Communications Commission
(FCC) about allowable ways to maintain cybersecurity without WiFi blocking.
Marriott said it already did not block independent WiFi
in guestrooms and lobbies.
In August, Marriott, along with the American Hotel &
Lodging Association (AH&LA), filed a petition with the FCC asking
regulators to allow WiFi blocking in meeting areas. The petition drew criticism
from tech giants Google and Microsoft and faced allegations that the hotel
company was trying to protect the revenue stream generated by the provision of
on-site WiFi. Marriott had countered that blocking WiFi was about cybersecurity,
Marriott was fined $600,000 by the FCC in October after a
probe revealed that a conference attendee at the Marriott-managed Gaylord
Opryland in Nashville had his personal WiFi network blocked.
The FCC said that Marriott was in violation of Section 333 of
the Federal Communications Act of 1934, which states, “No person shall
willfully or maliciously interfere with or cause interference to any radio communications
of any station licensed or authorized by or under this Act or operated by the
United States Government.”
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