Not Responsible for Lost Items

Have you ever walked into a hotel or your local gym and seen a sign that reads "Not Responsible for Lost of Stolen Items"? Businesses post these signs as a way to reduce their liability. By posting the signs the argument can be made that they warned you and you chose to proceed with staying at that establishment, therefore making you the negligent one. That logic has a fundamental flaw, however. Having a sign that says they aren't responsible is not enough and does not let them off the hook. Proper steps still have to be taken to ensure the security of the guests. Working locks, security guards, security camera's, etc. all have to be installed and working. If you can prove negligence the hotel is very much on the hook for the damages. The sign should actually read "We have taken all necessary precautions into account and diligently tested all of our security and locks to ensure proper working order. We ask that you use these items in the proper way. If you choose to not use them as designed, you will be responsible for any loss".

Physical security is more straight forward than cyber-security. A security guard can patrol, test access, and verify nothing suspicious is happening. If he sees something out of the ordinary he can immediately take action and resolve the situation. Cyber-security is more nebulous. There are many ways into a business thorough everyday usage than a single point of entry. Firewalls left with open holes, browsers not updated, users willing to give away personal data...the list goes on.

So when I get to my next hotel and hop on the free wireless internet, I most likely will be presented with a terms and conditions page that will basically say "Don't use this for anything illegal and whatever you do will be your responsibility. We just provide the access". That is not the case though. A hotel has a fiduciary responsibility to secure the wireless. They let me know when I booked my hotel that internet was included. Therefore they made it a selling point and a reason for me to stay at the hotel. They made it part of the transaction. What steps have they taken to ensure my safety? Is the wireless setup for isolation mode? When was it last tested? What is the name of the firm that tested the security?

If I were to make a reservation at the Bates Motel and they let me know there was a psycho working there and I chose to stay, it would be my fault. But if they advertise a safe room, with a soft bed, television, and showers anything that deviates from that plan violates our mutual agreement.

Free wi-fi is great and adds value to offer it to your guests. But you have a responsibility with that goes along with it.