Marriott wifi blocking

Joe Greco jgreco at
Mon Oct 6 10:21:10 UTC 2014

> On Sat, Oct 04, 2014 at 11:19:57PM -0700, Owen DeLong wrote:
> > > There's a lot of amateur lawyering ogain on in this thread, in an area
> > > where there's a lot of ambiguity.  We don't even know for sure that
> > > what Marriott did is illegal -- all we know is that the FCC asserted it
> > > was and Mariott decided to settle rather than litigate the matter.  And
> > > that was an extreme case -- Marriott was making transmissions for the
> > > *sole purpose of preventing others from using the spectrum*.
> > 
> > I don't see a lot of ambiguity in a plain text reading of part 15.
> > Could you please read part 15 and tell me what you think is
> > ambiguous?
> Marriott was actually accused of violating 47 USC 333:
>    No person shall willfully or maliciously interfere with or cause
>    interference to any radio communications of any station licensed or
>    authorized by or under this chapter or operated by the United States
>    Government.
> In cases like the Marriott case, where the sole purpose of the
> transmission is to interfere with other usage of the transmission,
> there's not much ambiguity.  But other cases aren't clear from the
> text.  
> For example, you've asserted that if I've been using "ABCD" as my SSID
> for two years, and then I move, and my new neighbor is already using
> that, that I have to change.  But that if, instead of duplicating my
> new neighbor's pre-existing SSID, I operate with a different SSID but
> on the same channel, I don't have to change.  I'm not saying your
> position is wrong, but it's certainly not clear from the text above
> that that's where the line is.  That's what I meant by ambiguity.

I've watched this discussion with much amusement.  In a manner similar
to our legal system, where a lot of the law is actually defined by what
is commonly called "case law", most of the non-radio geeks here are
talking about radios and spectrum as though all of this represents some
sort of new problem, when in fact the agency tasked with handling it is
older than any of us.

> (What's your position on a case where someone puts up, say, a
> continuous carrier point-to-point system on the same channel as an
> existing WiFi system that is now rendered useless by the p-to-p system
> that won't share the spectrum?  Illegal or Legal?  And do you think the
> text above is unambiguous on that point?)

It doesn't matter if you think your quoted text on this point is
ambiguous.  The fact of the matter is that decades of policy are 
that the FCC decided many years ago that you cannot go onto shared,
unlicensed spectrum with a powerful transmitter and hold the mic 
open with the intent to disrupt the legitimate communications traffic 
of others on that channel.  This logically derives fairly 
straightforwardly from the quoted text, and the fact that wifi deauth 
interference is merely a packet-pushing variant of this isn't really 
hard for the average person to extrapolate.

But they also have decades of experience with other aspects of more 
subtle radio shenanigans, and they have the authority to sort it all 
out, so what we should really be hoping for is that the FCC doesn't 
do something onerous like mandate registration of access point MAC's 
and SSID's if and when it gets to a point where it is considered a 
true problem.  That could well be the regulatory "solution" to your 
ABCD problem, but it would be a heavyhanded fix to a minor problem.

... JG
Joe Greco - Network Services - Milwaukee, WI -
"We call it the 'one bite at the apple' rule. Give me one chance [and] then I
won't contact you again." - Direct Marketing Ass'n position on e-mail spam(CNN)
With 24 million small businesses in the US alone, that's way too many apples.

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