The U.S. Federal Communications Commission issued a public enforcement advisory on Tuesday, warning hotels and other commercial establishments not to intentionally block or interfere in any other ways with Wi-Fi hotspots such as the iPhone’s Personal Hotspot function.
MacRumors notes that the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau claims that interfering with Wi-Fi hotspots is illegal and that it will take appropriate action against violators by imposing substantial fines.
A recent FFC investigation discovered what it calls a “disturbing trend” where hotels and other commercial establishments intentionally blocked wireless customers from using their device’s Wi-Fi hotspot function.
Marriott Hotels was recently found to have used “a Wi-Fi deauthentication protocol” to block customers from accessing Wi-Fi in their Gaylord Opryland property in Nashville, TN, and the chain agreed to pay a $600,000 fine.
iOS device users will be familiar with their device’s “Personal Hotspot” feature that allows users to turn their cellular data connection into a shareable Wi-Fi connection, allowing them to use the connection on their Macs or other Wi-Fi equipped computers or devices.
The feature was improved with the release of the iOS 8.1 update, which allows a Mac running Yosemite to remotely initiate the Personal Hotspot capabilities of an iPhone that is nearby. The Mac will automatically detect a Hotspot capable iPhone, and will enable connecting to the iPhone via the Mac’s Wi-Fi menu without needing to manually access the iPhone.