Marriott to be fined $123 million by UK authorities for data breach

The hospitality giant is also reportedly being sued by the District of Columbia over resort fees

Image used for illustrative purpose only
Image used for illustrative purpose only

Marriott International will be fined $123 million by authorities in the UK over data breach. The hospitality group is reportedly also being sued by the District of Columbia over resort fees.

According to reports, UK’s data protection authority will fine the group for a data breach that exposed information of more that 383 million guests.

In November last year, Marriott revealed that Starwood properties’ (that was acquired by the hospitality giant) central reservation database was hacked.

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Reports suggested that the breach dated back to 2014 but was only discovered in November 2018. The hospitality group later pulled the hacked reservation system from its operations.

According to a report in the Guardian, the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is proposing a $123 million fine for Marriott. ICO also said that Marriott had failed to undertake sufficient steps to make sure its IT system was secure when it acquired Starwood.

Marriott plans to respond and defend its position.

Arne Sorenson, Marriott International’s president and CEO said:  “We are disappointed with this notice of intent from the ICO, which we will contest.  Marriott has been cooperating with the ICO throughout its investigation into the incident, which involved a criminal attack against the Starwood guest reservation database.

“We deeply regret this incident happened. We take the privacy and security of guest information very seriously and continue to work hard to meet the standard of excellence that our guests expect from Marriott,” he added.

Marriott gets sued in the US

According to reports, the District of Columbia is also suing Marriott for drip-pricing, claiming that mandatory resort fees at its hotels are “illegal and deceptive”.

A report by CNBC said that according to the complaint, Marriott had failed to disclose certain fees when it advertised prices for hotel rooms. The complaint also alleges that fees for the hotel rooms were grouped as taxes and guests only found out after they had already entered their credit card information.

The report suggested that this has been going on for more than 10 years.

Resort fee (also known as destination or amenity fees) is supposed to be disclosed separately from hotel room prices.

Often, guests are not informed about these prices and find out about it towards the end of the booking process.

The hidden fees that could add up to $95 per day, allegedly applied to listings on Marriott’s own website and travel websites such as Expedia, CNBC reported.

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