Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

Slow hotel Internet connection and a ridiculously broad AUP

I’m in Dallas this evening, and will be presenting what should be a fun workshop tomorrow at the Region 10 Education Service Center in Richardson for their staff, which I have titled “Powerful Ingredients for Digitally Interactive Learning.” As usual, I’m making some last minute adjustments to my presentation and curriculum for tomorrow, but unfortunately the Internet connection here at my hotel seems to be only slightly better than a dial-up modem. With an upload speed like this, desktop videoconferencing with iChat or Skype is definitely OUT for tonight:

Bandwidth at a Dallas Embassy Suites

It is WRONG for businesses to market this as “high speed Internet.”

As if this wasn’t enough of an affront to a digital bridge, I actually took the time to read the AUP I had to agree to in order to pay $10 for this ridiculously slow Internet connection, and learned that anything I transmit over this pre-Cambrian WiFi network will allegedly (according the hotel’s law firm, at least) belong to them. The AUP includes the following paragraph:

We may automatically track, collect and compile User Information and Transaction Data (as defined below) when you utilize the Service…”Transaction Data” shall mean information and data characterizing, describing, relating to, or comprising use of, including transactions (e.g., the sale and purchase of goods and services) conducted in whole or in part over or through use of the Service, whether such transaction was completed prior to or after the Acceptance Date, including, without limitation, User Information relating to parties to any such transactions.

If I’m interpreting the legal-ease correctly, they are laying claim to every data packet of information which I send over their network, irrespective of whether it is my login information for different accounts or anything else. How ridiculous. If I am interpreting this correctly, why would any sane person ever agree to this?! But wait… there’s more.

The agreement also states that the hotel has the right to do anything they want, anywhere in “the universe,” FOREVER, with my data which they capture:

By using the Service, you voluntarily, expressly and knowingly acknowledge and agree with all of the foregoing and further agree to each and all of the following: (I) such Information belongs to HHC and is not personal or private proprietary information; (ii) such Information, wherever collected, may be processed, used, reproduced, modified, adapted, translated, used to create derivative works, shared, published and distributed by HHC in its sole and absolute discretion in any media and manner irrevocably in perpetuity in any location throughout the universe without royalty or payment of any kind, without, however, any obligation by HHC to do so; (iii) HHC does not represent, warrant, or guaranty the Information or its processing, use, reproduction, modification, adaptation, translation, derivation, sharing, publishing or distribution, including without limitation the accuracy, reliability, security, or any other feature relating thereto or its processing, use, reproduction, modification, adaptation, translation, derivation, sharing, publishing or distribution; (iv) HHC will try to provide you a way to review, correct or update the User Information you give HHC directly, but cannot guaranty that such will be possible or that changes will be reflected throughout all uses of such Information…..

Of course this was written by lawyers. Doesn’t it seem strange that lawyers get paid well to write documents that basically most “normal” people never even read or want to read, and even when they do may be unlikely to accurately interpret? Boy that sounds like racket.

Again my thoughts: What a ridiculously sweeping grant of intellectual property rights. What a ridiculously slow connection to have to PAY for.

This may push me over the edge and convince me to purchase a USB cellular network data access modem or card for my laptop. What I really want is a “pay per use” modem or card, since I only need to get online like this at irregular times. I may have to talk to Santa about this….. I’m not sure what I’m wanting is currently for sale, however. I basically want a cellular data network interface device on the same terms as a “Go-Phone”.

Practically speaking, I wonder if this particular hotel Internet access AUP has ever been actually enforced to “lay claim” to all the information someone has sent over the hotel’s Internet connection? I’m wondering if most hotel AUPs are similar in their sweeping terms? “Irrevocably in perpetuity in any location throughout the universe?” Give me a break.

One of the best things I could do, aside from accessing the web right now on my own cellular data device, is connect via a VPN tunnel which would encrypt all traffic traveling through this local network. I am not seriously concerned about the hotel management stealing my information, but it IS true that other people at this hotel connected to the same access point and network could “sniff” my traffic if I’m not using a VPN tunnel and grab anything they want. David Pogue’s post back in January “How Secure Is Your Wi-Fi Connection?” gives more details on this scenario. Unlikely? Perhaps. But the cost of identity theft IS certainly high, and likely to only get higher as time in our digital info-verse marches on. Hamachi would probably be my choice, if I was going to set this up for free using my home high speed connection.

Of course, if I tried to use a VPN connection on this slooowwwww Internet connection it would only slow things down more. Yes, a cellular network data card is definitely looking better all the time…..

Whine is over

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One response to “Slow hotel Internet connection and a ridiculously broad AUP”

  1. Ryan Collins Avatar

    For security, what I do is setup an SSH tunnel to my home machine. I put SSH on port 443, so it will work on almost any connection (a lot block all outgoing ports except 80 and 443).

    I’ve tried Hamachi, but it had problems in a lot of places. For example, you have to set up port forwarding (for your home connection) for hamachi if both ends are NATed.

    Here’s the command I use to connect to my home machine:
    ssh -p 443 -L 3128:localhost:3128 -D 3000

    I have squid running on port 3128, and set my browsers to use it as a proxy. -D sets up a socks 4 connection, which I use for all my instant messaging clients.

    You could also setup OpenVPN on your home connection, but I haven’t felt like doing all the work.

    (I must be getting old, 5 years ago I would’ve killed for a 500/24kbps connection. 🙂