Company Who Wants To Sell Mobile Phone Jammers Believes Banning Them Is Unconstitutional

from the cellular-armageddon dept

A small Florida company creatively named CellAntenna sells signal boosting equipment and a wide variety of other wireless gear. They'd love to sell cellphone jamming equipment to local and state authorities, who'd use the gear to thwart the use of cellphones as remote explosive detonators. However the Communications Act of 1934 prohibits the sale and use of such equipment to any non-federal agency. With millions in revenue at stake, the company has decided to take on the FCC in court. CellAntenna lawyers are arguing that the Act, and the companion FCC regulation that supports it, are unconstitutional and in direct conflict with the Homeland Security Act of 2002. The goal of that act, they argue, is to empower local and state agencies in order to effectively battle terrorism. They're also arguing that the jamming technology could be useful to local authorities when dealing with hostage negotiations, during drug busts, or in prison facilities.

While their push sounds reasonable, there's a litany of problems that could arise by making this gear more readily available. The company is eager to sell three varieties of signal jamming gear with effective ranges of fifteen to a thousand meters to law enforcement. But increased availability of this gear obviously means more of the gear finding its way into general circulation, and more people using it in violation of law. That means increased instances of blocked cellphone communications anywhere someone gets annoyed by a high decibel chatty gossip. There's also the question of what kind of peripheral damage could occur when you've got every law enforcement office in the country using the gear every time there's a drug bust. Note CellAntenna never filed a petition for rule-making with the FCC, instead heading directly for a lawyer in the hopes of a faster resolution. We're sure they won't mind the free press they'll get for battling with Kevin Martin and company, either.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Sanguine Dream, Dec 1st, 2006 @ 12:35pm

    That fast eh?

    This article was post as I was posting a comment to this:

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20061201/004047.shtml#comments

    Remember that dangerous can of worms? I said that coporations are more than happy to open that can of worms as long as they are the ones reaping the benefit. All we need now is a politician using the "if you don't support this then you support terrorism" logic. The repercussions a cell phone jammer getting in the wrong hands is obvious.

    A drug bust going down in a park and the authorities are using a jammer. Further away but still in range of the jammer (and outside the notice of the cops) an eldery person has a heart attack and closest landline is still too far away.

    A hostage taker cuts the landlines and sets up a jammer.

    You're could just be rushing to the hospital on your cell on an important call (a family member is injurned) and you unknowingly go into a jamming zone.

    The company you work for sudden installed one of these jammers to cut down chatting while on the clock.

    And I'm sure there are more...

     

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  2.  
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    Aaron, Dec 1st, 2006 @ 1:09pm

    Positives

    Wouldn't it be great and the general populace was able to buy these to cover small spaces. Wouldn't it be great if these could be installed in movie theaters, classrooms, churches, etc....

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    The Man, Dec 1st, 2006 @ 1:20pm

    Re: That fast eh?

    There are real benifits to law enforcement using the jammers. The what if's in the comment can be used for anything and are not a valid argument. People had heart attacks, were being rushed to the hospital, etc., before Cell Phones existed. Besides that, the odds of something like that happening in the rare instances that law enforcement would use jammers is unlikely.

     

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  4.  
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    Skatter, Dec 1st, 2006 @ 1:26pm

    Jammer's not Scramblers

    The title of this post is misleading. A phone scrambler is an encryption devices. The FA notes that the company wants to sell jammers which can and will disrupt the communication of innocent bystanders, including, ironically, 911 calls.

    A phone scrambler is an encryption devices.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    TriZz, Dec 1st, 2006 @ 1:33pm

    Re: Re: That fast eh?

    There are real benifits to law enforcement using the jammers. The what if's in the comment can be used for anything and are not a valid argument. People had heart attacks, were being rushed to the hospital, etc., before Cell Phones existed. Besides that, the odds of something like that happening in the rare instances that law enforcement would use jammers is unlikely.

    How about the fact that I don't want my cell phone service cut off whenever I pass a jam zone, no matter what it is. Why is someone else debauchery good cause to jam my cell phone service? I'm a good member of society, I obey the law and I pay my cell phone bill...don't jam my phone. kthxbai.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Karl, Dec 1st, 2006 @ 1:36pm

    Jammers...

    Thanks Skatter. Good point. I've changed the report.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2006 @ 1:43pm

    What I would do

    If I got ahold of one, I would use it to temporarily disrupt the conversations of my fellow drivers...

    (that is after they have proven they arent capable of talking and walking.. er.. driving.)

     

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  8.  
    icon
    Ron (profile), Dec 1st, 2006 @ 1:50pm

    Jamming

    You do NOT want to jam cell phones in public places. Several years ago, a guy in a theater where I was watching "Chocolat" had a heart attack. The cell phones were out in a moment, and the paramedics were at the theater before theater management was even aware there was a problem (and, yes, someone did run out to find the theater manager).
    What you DO want is the f*king idiots who insist on talking in movies or talking loudly enough that all of us can hear their conversations to get a f*king clue and learn to shut up or move to a secluded spot to carry on their conversations.
    But, then I know I'm just dreaming that will ever happen.
    In any event, jammers should be generally illegal and maybe even used only with a court order.

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    The Man, Dec 1st, 2006 @ 1:50pm

    RE: TriZz

    You know what, you are right. Why should I have to put up with an insignifacant, short lived inconvience for the sake of public safety. I am going to carry this new learned lesson through the rest of my life experiences. Pull over for ambulances? Hell no. I have to get somewhere too, they can wait. Stopping for people in crosswalks? What the hell, I am more important, they can wait or die under my tire. Stop signs and stop lights no longer apply to me, I WANT TO DRIVE DAMN IT. WAAAA WAAAA No one is as important as me. WAAAAA

     

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  10.  
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    wolff000, Dec 1st, 2006 @ 1:52pm

    Already Out There

    If someone wants a jammer they are easy to buy and not that hard to build either. I say sell them. They should be used in areas where cell phones are prohibited, ie hospitals, prisons, etc. If you don't your precious digital leash to get jammed don't go any where you are supposed to have your phone off in the first place.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Sanguine Dream, Dec 1st, 2006 @ 1:58pm

    Re: Re: That fast eh?

    I agree that the police could do some real good with these devices. The point I'm trying to make is to stop and weigh in all factors before rushing them out into circulation.

    And while the what ifs are rare I wouldn't go off and say they are invalid. Yes heart attacks happened before cell phones but now that there is a tool that may help save a few of those heart attack victims it is worth noting the possibility of another device (no matter how noble its intentions are) that could interfere with it.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Betaflame, Dec 1st, 2006 @ 2:12pm

    Re: Re: That fast eh?

    How about people like me who only have a cell phone and no land line? If the cops were making a bust at my apartment complex my phone would be out. I'd have no way to communicate with friend/family/emergency personal. People also had heart attacks before we had defibulators, your argument is a stupid one. Lets just lock up a great tool that could save lives so the drug dealers can't make a phone call.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Jess, Dec 1st, 2006 @ 2:19pm

    jammers are dangerous

    with all the legitimate uses for jamming having been covered i will go into the illegitimate uses. hostage situation: if you are a terrorist or just your average bank robber you don't have to worry about someone calling for help over their cell phone if you use one. It can be used to prevent someone from dialing for help during gang shootouts. It can be used by your annoying neighbor who suffers from an inferiority complex and regularly disrupts your legitimate phone calls

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2006 @ 2:32pm

    Re: jammers are dangerous

    yes, but laws do not prevent the possession and use of jammers for those types of uses. Jammers are already available from "black market" sources. That is not what this about. This law just stops law enformcent from using a useful tool.

    And for you worried about calling mom, jammers would not be used for all drug busts, only dangerous ones. Remember, a jammer on a cell phone used in the situation of drug busts, would be to prevent lookouts calling the drug dealers and warning them of the impending swat raid. The only way the jammer would work is if the land line phone is disconnected as well. Disconnecting the land line phone is a pain in the ass and only done in dangerous situations. Jammers would be very useful for law enforcement, but used very rarely.

    And remember. If you outlaw dildos, only outlaws will have dildos.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    STJ, Dec 1st, 2006 @ 2:51pm

    I'd buy one just to walk around the mall a screw with people. :)

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Bob, Dec 1st, 2006 @ 3:17pm

    I carry one everywhere I go. That way none of the ignorant asses can use their phones when Im trying to eat in peace at a restaurant or watch a movie, or shop without hearing that damned nextel beep every 30 seconds. I obtained one overseas so anyone that wants one can purchase one easily. We didnt need cell phones 30 years ago and we DONT need them now!!!!

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 1st, 2006 @ 3:32pm

    Re: Positives

    Now that is actually a damn good idea.

    I vote for installation in all of the following:

    Public transport (buses, trains, underground, etc.)
    Restaurants
    Cinemas
    Class rooms
    Places of worship

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Steve Jones, Dec 1st, 2006 @ 3:37pm

    Retards.

    It's amazing the number of people that believe that their cell phone usage is a right, that people will die, and the world will end if they can't talk on the phone.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    B_Billy, Dec 1st, 2006 @ 3:58pm

    Right ON!!!

    Well said Steve Jones!!! I have found that cell phones turn perfectly good people into rude, inconsiderate assholes! Any thing to "inconvenience" these schmucks is all right by me. The chances of someone having a heart attack or other emergency while one of these jammers is active is miniscule at best.
    HANG UP AND LIVE YOUR LIFE!!!

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    another poster, Dec 1st, 2006 @ 3:58pm

    new national motto

    the problem isn't with the phones or jammers, its with the people. somewhere in the past 20 years people forgot what it means to be courteous or polite. i grew up in a small town and recently moved to a larger city (1600 people to 95,000people). the way people act when surrounded by anonymity is truly amazing. i hate to say it, but we Americans are the rudest, most selfish country there is. 'if its not helping me, i don't care' should be our new national motto.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    a man, Dec 1st, 2006 @ 4:16pm

    re: Anonymous Coward

    Anonymous Coward - can't you (please) ban this fool???? I'm really tired of his/her comments, they spoil the whole site.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    kweeket, Dec 1st, 2006 @ 4:47pm

    Re: Re: That fast eh?

    It's true that people had heart attacks and were rushed to the hospital before cell phones existed. But back then, people were more likely to have a landline which they could use to call 911 (or a family member called, whatever). Now, many people have only cell phones, especially those under age 30. And I suspect that percentage is only going to rise as time passes.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Bob, Dec 1st, 2006 @ 5:01pm

    Thats not MY fault if they choose to not have a land line. They are available in every house in the US

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    The Money, Dec 1st, 2006 @ 5:01pm

    Show Me

    This device wasn't created to save lives or inflict revenge. This company is not fighting the FCC to wage its own war against terrorism.

    It was created to make money.

    Once we realize that, the means from which the end is produced, are obvious.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Dj RaYz, Dec 2nd, 2006 @ 11:50pm

    MyAirSpace...

    The thing about the jammers is that it is being used on public air waves. And we currently have the FCC who is in charge of regulating and licensing things used on public airwaves. Even if a landlord owns the property, they don't own the airwaves in that space, its all public. So if a person or a company used a cell jammer to conflict with any type of conversation I am having, then they are violating my public air waves.

    The whole thing about these guys is just for profit. There are millions of other ways to make money on this earth while doing something for the greater good of society. Apparently, I am still trying to find out one of those ways..:-( What people do to make an easy buck or two...

    I hope that the FCC schools these guys and put them to shame.

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Wizard Prang, Dec 4th, 2006 @ 7:47am

    You can't legislate good behavior

    Well said. My problem is not people talking on the phone while driving. It is people _smiling_ while talking on the phone and driving.

    Why? Because if they are smiling it usually means that they are using the phone for an emotional connection and not an informational one.

    That in turn means that they are piloting tons of metal, plastic, rubber, hair, teeth and eyeballs down the road and their minds are elsewhere.

    Get your heads in the game, people!

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 4th, 2006 @ 12:25pm

    Theatre, etc: Faraday cage. Not Jammer. Emergency? Take a few steps (to the lobby) and your phone works again.


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faraday_cage

    Some brilliant theatre owner needs to do this and the ADVERTISE it as a feature...!

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    David Stone, Jan 19th, 2007 @ 12:28pm

    Phone Jammers RULE

    Once you use one for a day, it is all over with. You will want your own. Want to once again enjoy a movie, a quiet meal, or get through that grocery line without some cell phone toting moron holding things up? Then YOU my friend are ready! Save up your $350 and then go to globalgadget.com. The smaller, cell phone lookalike jammer works fine and is very stealthy, but for maximum punch in all situations, spend the extra $30 for the RX6000, and watch the whole room get "quiet", in a heartbeat. Take back your personal space! This is one purchase you will never regret.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    David Stone, Jan 19th, 2007 @ 12:28pm

    Phone Jammers RULE

    Once you use one for a day, it is all over with. You will want your own. Want to once again enjoy a movie, a quiet meal, or get through that grocery line without some cell phone toting moron holding things up? Then YOU my friend are ready! Save up your $350 and then go to globalgadget.com. The smaller, cell phone lookalike jammer works fine and is very stealthy, but for maximum punch in all situations, spend the extra $30 for the RX6000, and watch the whole room get "quiet", in a heartbeat. Take back your personal space! This is one purchase you will never regret.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    identicon
    Benny T., Apr 13th, 2007 @ 6:37pm

    A REAL Jammer...

    I discovered this neat little prize while looking for a real jammer, not just some 'black box'. It looks like a real mobile, is small, portable, and rechargeable. It looks like it would work well for what I need: http://www.techgadgetz.com/cjama.htm . Now if the price would just come down a little......

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 19th, 2007 @ 11:28am

    If people were'nt rude and ignorant, we would'nt need devices. Remember a time when there were no cellular phones at all!!!!. Nothing and no one is THAT IMPORTANT to be so Blatantly OBNOXIOUS. Cell phones are great when used properly and not abused.

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Cheryl S, May 19th, 2007 @ 11:33am

    Re: # 31

    I AM NOT A COWARD. I REALLY DID'NT THINK YOU NEEDED MY NAME FOR WHAT IS MY OPINION AND RIGHT TO PRIVACY!!!!!!! I AM NOT THE ONLY ONE WHO FEELS THIS WAY.

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 21st, 2007 @ 2:32pm

    Re: cell phone jammer

    cell phones are a huge problem in my classroom - also students say they record teachers and put on web - how can i purchase a scrambler

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    remember 20 years ago?, Nov 5th, 2007 @ 2:10pm

    Re: That fast eh?

    there was this time, many many moons ago, when cell phones didn't exist. you could be rushing to the hospital...and not have a phone at all. and we all made it to this point without *needing* a cell phone. they're a completely unnecessary crutch, and it's good to see people starting to disable said crutches.

    i had a cell for a year or two. i was on it ALL the time. it feel in a lake; i never replaced it - here it is 2-3 years later and i've come to realize that of those 50 calls a day...maybe 1 was important, if that.

    so, frankly, i personally don't care if people jam the entire US. i don't see the "need" for all this cell phone use anyway.

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    kingsley, Nov 12th, 2007 @ 7:04am

    i will like to have a deal

    hello i want to deal with ur company nobile phone sell fast here i my contry and if u will like to have deal with me i will tell u what do and its not gona get u to any troble am real and honest man i have my own company i make deal with other company like u u can reply me if u are intrested in having deal with me okey

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    Katia, Dec 27th, 2008 @ 8:27pm

    Re: Re: Re: That fast eh?

    Seriously - if you're such a good member of society than you wouldn't use your phone out in public and disturb the people around you. I've seen your type. Holding up lines at the store, standing in the middle of aisle or walkways, shushing anyone who somehow disturbs *your* call.

    You probably are one of those who thinks it is ok for people in a restaurant to hear your personal conversations or talk in the theatre while others are trying to enjoy a movie.

    Get bent asshole. You are not so important.

     

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  37.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2009 @ 9:18pm

    Re:

    Yeah I really feel like throwing away 45 bucks a month for something I don't need or want.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    identicon
    Not inclined to say, May 2nd, 2009 @ 5:25pm

    Emergency responders

    It would be foolish to regularly jam cell phones in any major public setting. Say an emergency worker while not on immediate responding status happens to be out enjoying a movie. That important phone call about the tragic car pile up recalling all trauma workers would never get through to them. Or how about the volunteer or paid fire fighter would his pager be blocked too? How about police or military that are on a 24/7 recall status. Anytime anywhere they need to be able to be reached. My phone is always on but if I go into those places it is on vibrate and I will screen the call of course. But if it is an emergency I will get up and take it outside. On a side note those people that are talking quietly to someone on the phone while they are in a resturant if they aren't talking any louder then someone talking to the person next to them so be it. I've seen people at tables talking to each other be louder and more distrubing more often then someone on a cell phone. So maybe we don't need cell phones and maybe it isn't a right to have one but guess what we don't need cars and it isn't your right to be able to speed or drive either. It's all tools, so use them properly and respect others. Heck I'd love a remote control to shut down that tailgaters engine, I think I'd like that. How about you or are you the tailgater that is complaining about a little cell phone usage. Have a nice day.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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