Access to the internet is increasingly becoming a necessity for most who have become dependent upon devices to get through their day. Companies like hotels and airports where large numbers of people congregate offer paid Wi-Fi access, and are trying to get the FCC to allow them to block personal Wi-Fi hotspots. The federal government has stepped in several times concerning how wireless access points can be accessed, but now Google and Microsoft are asking the FCC to ignore hotel chain’s attempt to control Wi-Fi in their buildings.
Hotels claim that unauthorized Wi-Fi hotspots could pose a security threat for their customers, and they need the ability to block access. The FCC currently holds the position that the Wi-Fi operates within the unlicensed spectrum and cannot be owned or controlled by companies. In response, hotels have requested a change in policy to enable the blocking of personal hotspots. While it is clear there is profit to be had by hotels and airports, consumers don’t want to pay for Wi-Fi when they have access via their smartphones, but there is another player in this battle, companies who make revenue from the web. Furthermore Google states,
“Allowing hotels or other property owners deliberately to block third parties’ access to Wi-Fi signals would undermine the public interest benefits of unlicensed use”
Google and Microsoft are two big names who have opposed hotel’s ability to block personal hotspots, because when consumers cannot access the internet the cannot use services like YouTube, Google search, Office 365, Outlook.com, etc. So far Microsoft and Google are the only two big tech companies who have opposed this possible change in rules, however it wouldn’t be surprising if more web-based companies join. Blocking access to personal hotspots may increase the security, but it should be common knowledge accessing unfamiliar access points is always risky.