By Koyulyn Miller, Paul Besozzi, and Monica Desai of Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLP
The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) continues to flex its enforcement muscles, most recently focusing on companies that would block or hamper consumer access to free Wi-Fi services.
Just last year the FCC raised eyebrows by using a provision of the Communications Act, heretofore applied to limit use of phone bill call detail information, to find that two companies – YourTel and Terracom – failed to protect all “proprietary information” they may have collected on customers. This week, the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau (EB) Chief, Travis LeBlanc, unequivocally emphasized to hospitality venues, e.g., hotels, convention centers and other commercial establishments, that Wi-Fi blocking is a “disturbing practice [that] must come to an end.”
This action, when combined with the FCC’s recent penchant for record-setting fines, should cause any venue that wants to require customers to use its own Wi-Fi services to take notice.