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Fri Nov 8, 2013, 10:26 AM

Worried about privacy? We're in Austria where hotels are required to monitor--by room--

downloading on guests' computers!

We were in an apartment for a week in Vienna and I had no problem connecting to their network.
We arrived in Salzburg on Wednesday and are staying in a hotel that offers free wi-fi. I couldn't get
my laptop to connect and couldn't figure out what was the problem. Thought maybe I was in a
dead zone in the hotel, so went out to the lobby. Still, kept getting an error message. The desk
clerk couldn't understand it, said she hadn't previously seen the problem. Next day, same thing.

Went up to the local coffee house, where I am now, no problem connecting to their network!
Talked to a different clerk at the hotel today and she confirmed what I was beginning to suspect--
that for some reason my computer was being blocked from connecting. Why would that be?
Could it be privacy settings on my laptop? Yup.

She told me that Austria REQUIRES hotels to monitor all downloads--by each room--in their hotel.
Said they had been fined for not previously doing so! She claims the coffee houses are subject to the
same rules, as well as apartments rented out to guests! Wow! Talk about Big Brother!

My son works in the info tech biz--so he's set up my laptop. I found one place on my browser (Firefox) options
that I could allow monitoring of sites I visited, but even unchecking that privacy setting still wouldn't allow
connecting at the hotel. He must have some other safeguards set up as well, but I decided it's just easier
to walk to the coffee house rather than try to figure out how to get my laptop to work at the hotel.

Has anyone else run into this kind of problem when traveling?

8 replies, 1357 views

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Reply Worried about privacy? We're in Austria where hotels are required to monitor--by room-- (Original post)
mnhtnbb Nov 2013 OP
CurtEastPoint Nov 2013 #1
jberryhill Nov 2013 #2
DetlefK Nov 2013 #3
CTyankee Nov 2013 #4
randome Nov 2013 #5
sharp_stick Nov 2013 #6
jberryhill Nov 2013 #7
mnhtnbb Nov 2013 #8


Response to mnhtnbb (Original post)

Fri Nov 8, 2013, 10:44 AM

2. I assume hotels monitor internet activities for a number of reasons

 


Let's get real...

You run a hotel chain. Executives of major corporations stay in your hotel and conduct business on your network. You can post whatever unread "I agree" terms to your system in order to allow them to connect to the internet.

Can you imagine the financial value of those communications?

If I ran a hotel, I'd let business people stay in it for free, just so I could obtain the inside information they are handing to me every day.

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Response to mnhtnbb (Original post)

Fri Nov 8, 2013, 10:44 AM

3. This has a simple, legal reason.

If you enter the internet through somebody else's connection, that person would be liable for all the illegal stuff that YOU downloaded.

That's also the reason why its strongly recommended (well, in Germany at least) to protect your wireless router with password and firewall. If your neighbour in the appartment next door uses your wi-fi, then you get busted for the pirated stuff he downloaded.

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Response to mnhtnbb (Original post)

Fri Nov 8, 2013, 10:50 AM

4. I don't bother using the Internet when I travel...I'm hardly in the room in the first place.

I'm up and out and, being a tourist, I am too busy exploring the city and visiting its museums and places of historic and architectural interest. It would be different of course if I were traveling for business. And that's a real problem...

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Response to mnhtnbb (Original post)

Fri Nov 8, 2013, 10:56 AM

5. A hotel is not 'Big Brother'. If you want to use someone's free access, you're bound by their rules.

 

[hr][font color="blue"][center]There is nothing you can't do if you put your mind to it.
Nothing.
[/center][/font][hr]

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Response to mnhtnbb (Original post)

Fri Nov 8, 2013, 11:03 AM

6. I'm kind of surprised

how many people think this is cool around here.

I think my company would shit bricks if I OK'd a hotel policy allowing them to intercept my traffic. Maybe that's why recently we've had to send encrypted data for the last couple of years. I've not run into this policy where I've traveled yet, at least not that I've noticed.

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Response to sharp_stick (Reply #6)

Fri Nov 8, 2013, 11:07 AM

7. "we've had to send encrypted data for the last couple of years"

 

Ding, ding, ding... we have a winner! No more calls, please.

Hotels and their outsourced providers, should not be considered trusted connections.

It's not a matter of anyone being "okay" with it, but you are inherently subjecting yourself to the trustworthiness of people you don't know.

Now, I would bet that if you picked random people off of the street and asked them "would you hold my wallet for a few minutes while I go do something", that most of them would be trustworthy. But, would you really like to run that experiment?

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Response to sharp_stick (Reply #6)

Fri Nov 8, 2013, 11:07 AM

8. Me too! I've never had a problem getting on hotel networks in NY, SF, L.A.

Every private home we've rented does have a security password on the network so random people
can't use the network.

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