Cell Phone Jammer Foolishness

Last weeks edition of The McLaughlin Group had the stupidest debate ever.

Chatter Zapper.

Is it a new wave of technology, or is it an anti-wave? They’re called cell phone jammers, capable of voiding any conversation within 20 feet. This combative technology has been called “revenge tech” or “design noir” or “annoyance tech.”

We’ve all been there. You’re sitting on a sold-out train, a crowded bus. It starts with a cell phone ring, some zany, cacophonous sound. Then the person sitting next to you picks up her cell phone. The agony begins; first the retelling of her day, then it is a round of “He said, she said,” then what’s for dinner.

Unobtrusively you reach over and take out your “revenge tech” device — zap. That takes care of that.

I think it’s a pseudo-problem. It’s a pseudo- problem, because technology will now devise a jam-proof telephone or the chatter will not work.
-John McLaughlin

The reason I call this the stupidest debate ever on the show is that jammers are illegal, period. They have been illegal my whole lifetime and they will remain illegal as long as humans want to have usable radio technology. This is not a new technology, as long as there has been radio there has been radio jamming technology. They are confusing a new product with a new technology and ignoring the reality of the FCC rules.

In case you don’t think jammers will get you into deep trouble, here’s the FCC penalty.

Fines for a first offense can range as high as $11,000 for each violation or imprisonment for up to one year, and the device used may also be seized and forfeited to the U.S. government.

For more information and the rules for other countries see this Wikipedia article.

**** UPDATE ****

More information at this newer post

4 Replies to “Cell Phone Jammer Foolishness”

  1. Leila, thanks for the link to the video.

    While it would be useful to stop someone from being annoying, the unintended consequences of allowing jammers can be very dangerous.

    Imagine you are out on the town and your loved one has a heart attack. You dial for help but someone (yourself maybe) has a jammer either intentionally or accidentally turrned on. Those minutes of delay for you to get through to emergency services may be the difference between life and death for your loved one.

    Now think about this, is the risk of causing harm or death to others worth the convenience of being able to stop someone from being annoying? I don’t think so.

    The very simple passive technology of shielding can be used in theaters and restaurants to block cell phone signals stopping the annoyance inside those buildings. This technique is, AFAIK, legal and effective everywhere and is not as dangerous because the building owner will provide emergency telephone access or risk being sued.

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  2. I know this device is illegal but it could be useful to avoid that annoying people who insists in disturbing our silence… For the ones who also liked the idea, I’ve found a video (http://www.weshow.com/us/p/22051/cell_phone_jammer) that shows some interesting information about cell phone jammers: its functions, how it looks like inside and the best part is an information we all want to know: how effective it is. Hmm… I liked this video, maybe these informations can be useful in the future…

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  3. inneed of info about jaming cell phones at a large prison , inmates are paying officers and employees some were around 500.00 bucks per phone to sneek them in effective range would have to be 1/4 mile to fully cover the site, and maybe mounted out side or on top of a bldg for max range , please notify me of any companys that sell this type of equipment.

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  4. Hi George,

    My first thought is that the officers and employees are breaking the law and need to be prosecuted. What other items are they smuggling in for the prisoners, weapons, money, heroin, crack, arresting the law breakers will work for all these problems. Frankly, IMHO, smuggling items into a prison is a worse breach of the law than all the prisoners in for drug possession. If the prison authorities don’t care about their employees and officers breaking the law then why should anyone help them.

    That said, if the prison officials want a lazy, ignore the law breakers, way out of their problem they should consult the FCC as special licenses to do radio jamming might be available for prisons.

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