Get updates by email

Select Specific Blog Updates

Paul Zimmerman

Photo of M&R Blog

blankstock ©

Businesses Incur Hefty Fines for Blocking Wi-Fi

Following the FCC’s massive $600,000 fine of Marriott International last year for blocking Wi-Fi at the Gaylord Opryland, the FCC has now imposed an even bigger fine on a boutique telecom company for engaging in similar activity.

On August 18, 2015, the FCC fined Smart City Holdings $750,000 for blocking guests’ personal Wi-Fi hotspots at convention centers.

Following an informal complaint made against Smart City Holdings, the FCC conducted an investigation and found evidence that the company had indeed blocked personal Wi-Fi hotspots while, at the same time, charging guests $80 for a single day of internet access. The FCC noted: “It is unacceptable for any company to charge consumers exorbitant fees to access the Internet while at the same time blocking them from using their own personal Wi-Fi hotspots to access the internet…all companies who seek to use technologies that block FCC-approved Wi-Fi connections are on notice that such practices are patently unlawful.”

While there may be legitimate security concerns behind wanting to block Wi-Fi hot spots – for example, to prevent “Free Wi-Fi” spoofers from stealing personal and valuable information – the FCC’s (now) second hefty fine and stance that Wi-Fi blocking is “patently unlawful” should serve as a warning to all those in the hospitality industry to think twice before blocking Wi-Fi hot spots, regardless of whether they seek to charge for their own Wi-Fi service or not.

This article is not offered as, and should not be relied on as, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice in specific situations.