It is harder to kill a whisper than even a shouted calumny.”
~Mary Stewart

Hotel rooms no longer private

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http://scholarship.shu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1048&context=circuit_review

 http://www.gsblaw.com/duff-on-hospitality-law/guest-room-privacy-and-the-fourth-amendment

https://www.travelandleisure.com/travel-news/hotel-do-not-disturb-signs

https://www.hotelmanagement.net/operate/hilton-updates-its-do-not-disturb-sign-policy

https://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/10/nyregion/lawful-handguns-departing-for-new-york-but-unlawful-upon-arrival.html

Remember when Trump said Kate Gillibrand would do anything for campaign contributions inciting cries of sexual harassment, and Sarah Sanders said “Only if your mind was in the gutter would you read it that way”?  It wasn’t a dogwhistle, a slight he could get away with – it’s only a slight in your own mind.

Hilton hotel’s new policy regarding searching all occupied rooms after a Do Not Disturb sign is on your door for over 24 hours has nothing to do with the Vegas shootings, it’s in your subconscious (URL above).  

At least some hotels are being more up front about the situation and acknowledge that with the Vegas shootings they now reserve the right to enter your room at any time for any reason.  The new generally applied policy is “if housekeeping hasn’t been in your room for over 24 hours”.

Anybody seeing nothing wrong with this, who is  wanting to avoid another Vegas and is willing to give up their fourth amendment protections for the perceived safety it brings needs to ask themselves three questions : 

  1. Why doesn’t it apply to law enforcement or airline staff?  Just because they’re “less likely” to be a murderer?  All this does is highlight a couple lobbyists that have more political pull than We, The People.
  2. Are you seriously suggesting that housekeeping is qualified to paw through your things like a TSA agent and won’t miss long guns stashed behind the open curtains?  
  3. What if malicious content is inside a standard locked TSA suitcase or ski case?  You know for a fact housekeeping nor the attending manager will open it because that’s a blatantly illegal search, well outside their stated policy.  How many long guns can you fit in a ski case?  Handguns in a standard suitcase?

This is security theatre, intended to make people feel safer because after all, they must be getting something back for the violation of their constitutional protections, right?  People are freaking out and are pressured to “do something” and the owners of these mega-chains don’t want to be liable, that’s all it is.

It’s legal because it’s private property, they’ve updated their policies and the impetus is on the guest to read those policies.  If customers don’t like it they can stay somewhere else… though all hotel owners and subsidiaries have dictated the same policies of course.

If someone wants to do something like shoot at a crowd from a Vegas hotel window, nothing is going to stop them.  Unfortunately when people panic after something that tragic occurs it’s easy to spin or conflate pro-privacy with pro-mass-murder, so citizens – even level headed congress members –  don’t have a leg to stand on.  This is all you can do:

  • Assume your hotel room will be searched (not looked over, searched) while you’re out for the day no matter what sign is hanging on your door. 
  • Tuck away any personal / private items as well as small valuables into your locking suitcase every morning.
  • Lock your laptop screen while you’re away.
  • Use of the hotel network is included in their spying policy – always use a VPN.
  • If you have a concealed carry license and you’re traveling with your sidearm, they will find your firearm (or the locked case in / around your open suitcase) and freak out.  Even if it’s in a standard airline-compliant locking case, possession in a non-reciprocating state is illegal and will get you thrown in jail on the spot!  If you’ve made a mistake, your flight was delayed/cancelled and the airline paid for a hotel, etc: keep your locked, unloaded-and-ready-to-check-in firearm inside your TSA locked suitcase and/or use the tricks below.
  • By that same token, if you have something that LOOKS like a gun safe, tuck it away.
  • Talk about this with people, socialize it, make them think about it – how exactly is this violation keeping anybody safe?  How many people were caught naked in the shower by housekeeping versus how many criminals discovered and violent acts prevented?  Here’s a hint, two times I’ve already been walked in on during/post-shower naked when I refused to answer the door.  I promise you one happens more often than the other.  They’re supposed to knock and wait, but housekeeping blew through the door lock and deadbolt faster than I could yell “HEY!!!  WHAT THE FUCK?!”.
  • This taught me : if you’re in the room, always use the secondary door chain.
  • Purchase airline uniforms second hand and hang them out in the open, and/or buy some CREW luggage tags on EBay and then put ’em on your case while you’re out.  There: instant prophylactic against privacy violations (https://www.ebay.com/bhp/flight-crew-tags) .  Don’t do this with fake badges or law enforcement materials, that’ll land you in some hot water if they ever find out they’re fake.
  • Here’s another trick : next time you buy a wireless router or some other expensive technical equipment,  keep the box and put personal materials inside it while you travel. Housekeeping is afraid of being liable for breaking expensive things way more than they’re interested in searching your belongings “for national security”.  They won’t steal technical equipment because most don’t know what to do with it.
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