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AshlynM's avatar

Do hotels monitor their guest's internet activity?

Asked by AshlynM (6517 points ) October 12th, 2011

More specifically, if they try and look up adult porn?

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14 Answers

koanhead's avatar

Even if they do, it’s not illegal to look up adult porn (with certain notable exceptions left as an exercise for the reader). Just don’t look up child porn or engage in other illegal activities.

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poisonedantidote's avatar

I have worked in a few hotels now, and they never monitor the internet. This is hotels on the island of Mallorca, Spain. I don’t know about other places.

I would suspect they dont care what their guests look up, in fact most hotels usually try to provide porn to those who want it.

blueiiznh's avatar

All activity is logged.
I don’t think is is common practice to look at them unless there is a legal reason, but there are quirky peepers everywhere.

flutherother's avatar

What guests want to do in hotel bedrooms is their own affair. Hotel staff won’t often be surprised by a guest’s behavior I’m sure and they will be too busy to look up Internet histories.

YARNLADY's avatar

If the guest is using the hotel computers they might be monitored, but simply using your own computer in a hotel will most likely not be monitored by the hotel.

koanhead's avatar

@blueliznh Whether or not to log HTTP traffic is up to the system administrator. I don’t believe that Win7 hosts acting as gateways keep a log of this traffic by default, and I know that most Debian-based hosts do not. Part of the process of setting up a gateway is deciding whether or not to set up such logging (usually it will be part of a firewall rule). It’s unusual to log all HTTP traffic, and if a host did log all of it on a network with 100 or more nodes the log would grow very rapidly (and probably be truncated by logrotate before any entries were more than a few minutes old).
Even if the gateway logs all HTTP traffic passing through, it only logs source / destination IP, a timestamp and some other information (configurable by the sysadmin) the log entries will not contain the actual content, only some data stripped from packet headers.
Reading the full content of all packets passing through the gateway is called “packet sniffing”. This requires specialized software not present in an ordinary gateway/router setup. It’s also an extraordinary sleazy thing for a hotel (or other service provider) to do, and may well be illegal. Certainly if a business was doing that they could get into a great deal of trouble if it were revealed publicly that they were spying on their customers.

It’s possible, but not easy, to detect a packet sniffer. Unless you’re an expert it’s probably not worth trying, but you could contact your local LUG or DefCon group and see if anyone is interested in trying it.

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Buttonstc's avatar

Most likely they can, but why would they bother? And if one little weirdo on staff gets his jollies by checking up on which guests watch porn, what do you care? You’re an adult and it’s legal, so what?

This is totally different from work where they have the same access to what you do on the Internet and they do usually care because they’re not paying you to watch porn (or anything else) in the period of time you’re supposed to be working.

There’s a clear distinction between the two scenarios.

blueiiznh's avatar

@koanhead All your detail is great and in some cases right. The OP question does not spell out the detail or verbose level of logging.
This will vary hotel to hotel. They may have outsourced who is acting as their ISP or POP may be managing it all and nobody in the hotel has it. Nobody is packet sniffing without just cause. Network Engineers have a few better things to do than lurk.
We could talk all day about monitoring activity, but in ansrew of the OP, yes it is logged.

koanhead's avatar

@blueiiznh
“Nobody is packet sniffing without just cause”- I know plenty of people who do just for the hell of it. How can you know Cracky McScriptKiddy isn’t in the room next to you, firing up Airshark just for the fun of it?
Even where “just cause” exists (like if the FBI is using it to catch Cracky in the act), packet sniffing is promiscuous. It will capture all the packets on the wire or radio channel, not just those belonging to the target.
Logging HTTP traffic is not necessarily the same as “monitoring Internet activity”, which is what the OP asked about. The phrase can mean a lot of different things, hence the detail.
“They may have outsourced who is acting as their ISP or POP may be managing it all and nobody in the hotel has it.”- I don’t understand what you mean here by POP- could you clarify?

@AshlynM If you are worried that your internet connection may be monitored, you can use Tor with or without privoxy to anonymize your Internet usage, or set up an encrypted tunnel or VPN connection.

blueiiznh's avatar

@koanhead The OP was asking about the hotel, not the perv in the next room. I also know what packet sniffing is. @koanhead correct that logging http is only one form of monitoring internet activity. All the detail is appreciated. It does suprise me that with all the detail about http traffic, airshark, packet sniffing/capturing that you have brought up, that you are unaware what POP means when used in reference with ISP

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