NEW YORK, New York - Business travelers around the world are facing major disruptions to their ability to work online while staying at hotels.
Guests staying at international hotels, including those operated by groups such as Marriott, Accor and Hilton and many others, are losing their ability to send emails. Having working wifi is an essential for travelers of all walks of life, not just those traveling on business.
A group called Spamhaus.org, founded in 1998 in London and Geneva, is intercepting emails at the hotel IP level and preventing them from being sent. Guests are advised the IP address they are sending emails from is on a Spamhaus.org blacklist.
Apparently, according to Spamhaus.org, an IP address is blocked from sending emails if the address has been used for sending suspected spam emails, usually in high numbers.
The group, which is a not-for-profit project, advises guests with a pop-up message outlining that the IP address (of the hotel) is blacklisted in Spamhaus.org. It directs the guest, or other user to its website, where the problem IP is loaded and in some cases the IP host name is required. This means the guest has to track this down. Even then when it provides both, the guest has to provide their email address, after which a code is emailed to them, and then they insert that in the online form and complete the removal request.
An errant IP address can be listed on more than one blacklist, which means other procedures may also be required. The proposed solutions too are not always successful. If too many requests are made to unblock an IP address, Spamhaus.org freezes the address, sending a message that too many requests have been made to have the address removed. What then?
Guests booking into hotels believing they will have working wifi need to think again. This is an issue occurring in cities and towns across the world on a rapidly increasing basis. Hotels are not only the only venues at risk, even cruise lines are being impacted.
Hotels usually disavow knowledge of the Spamhaus project although when support tickets are pushed higher, the process of requesting removal is sometimes provided.
Spamhaus.org may well be providing a valuable service, however in the process it is wreaking havoc on business travelers and other guests. The problem for the hotels is, despite them not having anything to do with the problem, guests will be reluctant to extend, or re-book if they have such an experience.
"We do not specifically target hotels, business ones or recreational," a spokesman for Spamhaus.org told us.
"If a user gets a pop-up it's not one from us, as we only provide data for mailserver operators to use."
"The majority of the cases as you describe them would be end-user network IP addresses that are listed on our PBL. Any PBL listed IP is there because the network that the address is part of is not supposed to send mail, because of its dynamic nature. It is not an accusation of any past or present spam emission," the Spamhaus.org spokesman said.
"Typically, anyone in a business hotel would use their own ISPs outbound mailserver (or corporate mailserver) to send mail, and authenticate to be able to use that. Alternatively, they can use a third party mailserver for example) to which they authenticate, which will then route the email."
(Photo credit: Luxuo).