Hotel net access rights

The hotel I’m staying in offers high-speed internet access. However, before signing in, I thought I’d actually read the Terms of Use document (an odd curiosity, I know.) Most of it was dedicated to forbidding sending spam and virii, but the following section caught my eye:

“Your name will be deleted from our server when you check out. We will only retain enough information to allow us to analyse aggregated anonymous data on guest use of the Service, which we may share with third parties.”

Interesting. What exactly is “enough information”? How do they “analyse” it? And who are the “third parties?”

Most hotels require quite a bit of information about you before they will rent a room. At a minimum, they have your Name, Mailing Address, Credit Card number, and the number of times you’ve stayed there. During your stay they can gather even more. This particular hotel requires a card (they recommend using your room key) to be inserted into a slot to turn the power on in the room. With that, they know what time of day you’re in the room. They also know what numbers you’ve called from the land-line, they know what Television channels you watched, and they know what time you watched them. Add the internet connection to the list, and they now know when you got online and what you did with that connection.

Unfortunately there’s no way to opt-out of any of this, other then not staying in hotels or not using the internet from your room. However, when traveling it’s hard to avoid those two basic needs. At least if the hotel used wi-fi it would be more difficult for them to link guest records with net usage, but this hotel has ethernet jacks. Bummer. For a brief moment I thought about whipping up a script to generate random web usage (think Google API + random words + fetching random search results), but instead, I opted to give their guest reporting service the finger and route all my traffic over an SSH connection to a remote server. Geek powers win again.