More on Cell Phone Jammers

My post in October 2007, Cell Phone Jammer Foolishness, received a couple of interesting comments and is still attracting a lot of spam from sites that offer cell phone jammers. A recent piece of spam ended up pointing me to an excellent November 2007 New York Times article on this topic. A few examples of jammer users from that article made me realize that many of them are simply incompetent at their jobs and want to use jammers to cover up their shortcomings.

… upscale restaurant in Maryland …
The owner, who declined to be named, said he bought a powerful jammer for $1,000 because he was tired of his employees focusing on their phones rather than customers.
“I told them: put away your phones, put away your phones, put away your phones,” he said. They ignored him.

This owner can’t control his employees so he uses an illegal jammer to make up for his inability to discipline his employees. IMO, he deserves to go bankrupt as he is clearly not cut out to run a business with employees. This reminds me of the companies who’s supervisors can’t recognize when employees are under the influence of drugs and alcohol. Instead of training them to spot the problem they institute drug testing. This eliminates the drug abusers and the outside of work casual drug users while retaining the staff with drinking problems. I do not believe technology is ever a good replacement for competent managers and supervisors.

The carriers also raise a public safety issue: jammers could be used by criminals to stop people from communicating in an emergency.

This is aspect of the jammer issue I hadn’t thought about, it’s another good reason to keep the ban on all radio jamming devices.

In evidence of the intensifying debate over the devices, CTIA, the main cellular phone industry association, asked the F.C.C. on Friday to maintain the illegality of jamming and to continue to pursue violators. It said the move was a response to requests by two companies for permission to use jammers in specific situations, like in jails.

This reminds me of a comment I received on my previous post.

in need 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.

I replied:

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.

Since their are no special licenses or regulation waivers for prisons the only legal options they have are to use RF shielding materials in the prison or prosecute the law breakers. Another user described in the NY Times article is:

Gary, a therapist in Ohio who also declined to give his last name, citing the illegality of the devices, says jamming is necessary to do his job effectively. He runs group therapy sessions for sufferers of eating disorders. In one session, a woman’s confession was rudely interrupted.
“She was talking about sexual abuse,” Gary said. “Someone’s cellphone went off and they carried on a conversation.”
“There’s no etiquette,” he said. “It’s a pandemic.”
Gary said phone calls interrupted therapy all the time, despite a no-phones policy. Four months ago, he paid $200 for a jammer, which he placed surreptitiously on one side of the room. He tells patients that if they are expecting an emergency call, they should give out the front desk’s number. He has not told them about the jammer.

Sorry Gary but I don’t buy it that you can’t do your job effectively without breaking the law. Why don’t you just insist that your patients leave their cell phones outside when they enter a session. I’m guessing your patients don’t feel you are worth the visit if they have to follow rules of courtesy demanded by you. How can you be truly useful advising your patients if you can’t even get them to be courteous. The final example is:

… New York school bus driver named Dan.
“The kids think they are sneaky by hiding low in the seats and using their phones,” Dan wrote in an e-mail message to Mr. Thakkar thanking him for selling the jammer. “Now the kids can’t figure out why their phones don’t work, but can’t ask because they will get in trouble! It’s fun to watch them try to get a signal.”

Smooth move Dan, you can’t control the kids in your charge so you use a jammer. How would you feel if there is an accident, you are disabled and some of the kids are hurt. You can’t turn off the jammer so now any surviving children with phones or spectators nearby can’t get help as quickly as they could. Seconds can save lives so when you use a jammer you may end up preventing someone’s life from being saved. I just hope that the only people who suffer due to a situation like this are the bozo’s who feel this need to use illegal cell phone jammers.