Today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted 3-2 to issue a proposed fine of $718,000 against M.C. Dean, Inc. for deliberately blocking visitors to the Baltimore Convention Center from using their own Wi-Fi hotspots.
The FCC found that M.C. Dean, Inc. forced exhibitors and visitors to the convention center to use M.C. Dean “authorized” Wi-Fi channels by using Wi-Fi blocking technology. M.C. Dean charged between $795 and $1,095 per day for use of its “authorized” Wi-Fi channels. As the FCC found, M.C. Dean, Inc.’s indiscriminate use of jamming equipment appears to have blocked Wi-Fi outside the Baltimore Convention Center as well.
The following may be attributed to Harold Feld, Senior Vice President at Public Knowledge:
“This marks a big victory for all users of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and other devices that use unlicensed spectrum. By today’s action, the FCC clarifies that any deliberate interference with Wi-Fi violates the law against deliberately jamming lawful communications. The Commission’s action today will save hotel guests, convention exhibitors, and others dependent on Wi-Fi millions of dollars in overcharges from 'official' hotel and exhibit hall Wi-Fi providers.
“Too often, hotel chains and convention centers have forced hotel guests and exhibitors to pay for overpriced Wi-Fi that runs slower than dial-up by using blocking technology to jam legal Wi-Fi and Mi-Fi devices. These jammers claim blocking Wi-Fi and other unlicensed spectrum users must be legal because Wi-Fi devices must accept interference from other legally operating sources. But as the FCC made clear today, the fact that a Wi-Fi device must accept interference from any device operating legally does not create an exception to the rule prohibiting jamming.”
Members of the media may contact Communications Director Shiva Stella with inquiries, interview requests, or to join the Public Knowledge press list at firstname.lastname@example.org or 405-249-9435.