Jammer Jammed

Cell phone jammer company assessed $25,000 for two Internet sales

We have written elsewhere about the irritations of other people using cell phones in public places. Technology, having caused this problem, also offers a solution: widely available on the Internet are jammers that silence phones nearby, and sometimes at a considerable distance.  We Googled “cell phone jammer” and found dozens of places selling them.

Some outfit calling itself the “Federal Communications Commission” has declared jammers to be illegal. Recently it levied a fine of $25,000 against a company with the unwisely chosen name of “phonejammers.com” that offers them on the Internet. (This is like putting a license plate on your car that says SPEEDER.) The company denied marketing in the United States, but the FCC found two in use that the company had sold. Both were relatively high power, as jammers go – five and eight watts respectively. The five-watter, used by a Texas cosmetology school, resulted in a local cell phone provider lodging interference complaints; the other interfered with calls to and from a sheriff’s office in Florida. One suspects the users had these cranked up a lot higher than was needed to protect the immediate premises.

Ironically, in both Texas and Florida it is legal to openly carry firearms into a Starbucks, say. But not a phone jammer. So when the cell phone at the next table erupts into The William Tell Overture and its owner bellows, “HELLO? HEY! YEAH, IN A STARBUCKS! IT’S RAINING HERE! SO WHERE’RE YOU?” pulling out the jammer is not an option. It’s the firearm or nothing. This may not be good public policy.

Yet the FCC runs roughshod over citizens’ inalienable right to enjoy a cup of coffee in peace. Phone your congressional representative to complain. But please, step outside to make the call. Especially in open-carry states.

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Comments (9) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
John Mullins - April 26, 2010 3:24 PM

"Ironically, in both Texas and Florida it is legal to openly carry firearms into a Starbucks, say."

This statement is completely wrong. Neither Texas nor Florida are open carry states. Concealed carry only.

Texas Resident - April 26, 2010 4:24 PM

While the content of your post is something I agree with, especially the FCC's overzealous reaction to such countermeasures, however you stated in your post.

"Ironically, in both Texas and Florida it is legal to openly carry firearms into a Starbucks, say."

As a Texas resident I would like to point out that this is not necessarily true. While we are permitted to carry concealed weapons in most areas (aside from where a statute explicitly disallows and if we posses the appropriate license) we are not permitted to open carry.

It is a common misconception as there is no provision in the law that prohibits open carry of long guns in the state of Texas, but generally this is frowned upon and will most likely earn you a disorderly conduct ticket for alarming passers by.

Although, I would contend that at least the firearm don't wail The William Tell Overture. Good article, but figured I would post a quick correction.

MItchell Lazarus - April 26, 2010 5:03 PM

On taking a second look at the research, we agree with the above posts.

Larry Anglin - April 26, 2010 6:38 PM

The statement: "One suspects the users had these cranked up a lot higher than was needed to protect the immediate premises." is also false. The units are not adjustable, you have to buy the model with the power you want. It is not possible for a user to 'crank up' the power on the jammer.

The statement about openly carrying firearms in Texas has been corrected, but may need some clarification. In Texas, there is a distinction between a handgun and a long gun. A long gun may be carried openly, but may not be concealed. A handgun may be carried concealed by a person licensed to do so, but a handgun may in no case be carried openly (except for law enforcement, etc.)

Chris M. - April 26, 2010 7:54 PM

Mitchell, I must disagree with your analogy. What does firearms law have to do with communication regulations? I believe a better analogy would be bringing an annoying noise generator to the same place, as both disrupt communications.

Or we can turn the analogy around. A criminal brings a firearm into a place where they are are prohibited by law. What good would the cell phone jammer do there?

PS- If you absolutely have to use the firearms analogy, in Ohio, the open carry of a handgun by a law abiding citizen is legal, as long as all related laws are respected. I write this as a law abiding citizen who chooses to carry a handgun for defense of my loved ones and I.

Get Real - April 26, 2010 11:35 PM

How is your desire to deprive someone of their right to use the public spectrum in anyway similar to carrying a firearm?

Maybe you need to work on your rage issues if you have to jam someones phone or pull a handgun when it interrupts your coffee.

FlResident - April 27, 2010 6:48 AM

Florida Resident here. It is illegal to open carry in the state of Fl into a starbucks.

The only open carry allowed by mortals in Fl is in the context of camping, fishing, hunting, etc

If one has the proper license they may carry concealed into a starbucks.

Adam - April 27, 2010 1:13 PM

"pulling out the jammer is not an option. It’s the firearm or nothing. This may not be good public policy."

Firearm or nothing? How about using your words. If this is his thinking, I pray that the author does not carry a firearm.
No gun owner I know (I know many being in small town Texas) would seriously consider even displaying a firearm (Deadly Conduct charge- at a minimum) to handle this situation.

Erik - May 11, 2010 10:53 AM

It appears you support breaking all types of "annoying" laws, most especially the "law" of common sense. There are reasons that FCC rules and fines are used...and that is to protect the rest of us from those folks out there who think "freedom" is their "freedom" to impact the rest of the populace by "jamming" zones they think they "own". Try using the 1st ammendment to speak to a person that is annoying you in Starbucks. Slap the phone out of their hand...but there is no need to pull a gun.

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