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Marriott Won't Block Guest Wi-Fi Devices After All

Marriott International has pledged to not block guests from using personal Wi-Fi devices at their hotels, reversing their stance on the issue after widespread public outcry.

Marriott and the American Hospitality and Lodging Association filed a petition with the FCC, asking that the commission to allow hotels to remotely disable the smartphones, tablets and other devices that some patrons use to tether their computers to the internet via 3G or 4G cellular service.

The hospitality giant said that it wanted to manage the connections in order to maintain security standards. Skeptics postulated that they were looking to protect the revenue that they receive from charging fees for on-property Wi-Fi access.

In October, Marriott paid $600,000 to settle a complaint that the hotel had blocked customers’ personal wireless modems and hot spots at least once. But, it said that internet access in private guest rooms was not at issue.

“The question at hand is what measures a network operator can take to detect and contain rogue and imposter Wi-Fi hotspots used in our meeting and conference spaces that pose a security threat to meeting or conference attendees or cause interference to the conference guest wireless network,” Marriott said at the time.

Now, it has changed its tune—but said that it will continue to work with the FCC on security.

“Marriott International listens to its customers, and we will not block guests from using their personal Wi-Fi devices at any of our managed hotels,” it said in a statement. “Marriott remains committed to protecting the security of Wi-Fi access in meeting and conference areas at our hotels. We will continue to look to the FCC to clarify appropriate security measures network operators can take to protect customer data, and will continue to work with the industry and others to find appropriate market solutions that do not involve the blocking of Wi-Fi devices.”

"We applaud Marriott International for taking the right course of action by dropping its petition to the FCC and pledging to not block guests' personal Wi-Fi devices at its hotels,” said Randy Paynter, CEO of Care2, an industry group that protested Marriott’s move with a petition that gathered thousands of signatures. “Care2 members are calling on the American Hospitality and Lodging Association to do the same and curb this disturbing attempt to obstruct hotel guests' access to the internet. We hope that the American Hospitality and Lodging Association heeds the call of over 13,000 Care2 members and remains committed to ethical standards of Internet freedom and customer choice."

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