A national fixation with mobile phone jammers was sparked last week when a Philadelphia bus rider identified only as “Eric” admitted to using a mobile phone jammer to interfere with the mobile phone signals of his fellow bus riders. “Eric” told NBC10, a local news station, a lot of people are excessively loud, no sense of privacy or anything, when it becomes bothersome, I screw on the antenna and flip the switch.
A fellow passenger on his bus named Marie said “Every time I see this guy on the bus, I have a mixture of fear and anger. A part of me wants to go up to him and say, stop doing this how dare you.”
Interest in mobile phone jamming became so acute that on Tuesday, the FCC felt obligated to weigh in and advise Americans that no matter how badly they want to purchase a mobile phone jammer for themselves, they definitely should not because (A) it is dangerous, (B) it is illegal and (C) they may be fined up to $16,000 if they are caught using one. Michelle Ellison, chief of the FCC's enforcement bureau, said in a statement "We caution consumers that it is against the law to use a cell or GPS jammer or any other type of device that blocks, jams or interferes with authorized communications, as well as to import advertise, sell, or ship such a device." Jammers do more than just interrupt noisy or annoying conversations and disable unwanted GPS tracking. They can also prevent 911 and other emergency service phone calls from getting through.
The statement outlines two examples of how private use of mobile phone jammers might interfere with public safety.
1>A high school teacher uses a jammer in his classroom to keep kids from being distracted. But, unknown to the teacher, the jammer also inhibits teachers, students and staff throughout the school from using their mobile phones, potentially putting student and teacher safety at risk.
2>In another example, a certified public accountant sets up a small jammer in his office so that he won't be disturbed during tax season, the jammer also interferes with the communications of a nearby fire department preventing critical emergency services.
Facing a potential fine of $16,000 dollars you don't want to be the one responsible for interfering with an emergency phone call.