Uncontrolled crime wave!

Federal crime seems to be going mainstream. Illegal cell phone jammers are selling like hotcakes:

Unsuspecting cellphone users may find themselves saying that more often now that cellphone jammers illegal gizmos that interfere with signals and cut off reception are selling like hotcakes on the streets of New York.

"I bought one online, and I love it," said one jammer owner fed up with the din of dumb conversations and rock-and-roll ringtones.

"I use it on the bus all the time. I always zap the idiots who discuss what they want from the Chinese restaurant so that everyone can hear them. Why is that necessary?"

He added, "I can't throw the phones out the window, so this is the next best thing."

Online jammer seller Victor McCormack said he's made "hundreds of sales" to New Yorkers.

"The interest has gone insane in the last few years. I get all sorts of people buying them, from priests to police officers."

I guess if everyone's doing it, it ought not to matter that according to the FCC, it's a federal crime:

The operation of transmitters designed to jam or block wireless communications is a violation of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended ("Act"). See 47 U.S.C. Sections 301, 302a, 333. The Act prohibits any person from willfully or maliciously interfering with the radio communications of any station licensed or authorized under the Act or operated by the U.S. government. 47 U.S.C. Section 333. The manufacture, importation, sale or offer for sale, including advertising, of devices designed to block or jam wireless transmissions is prohibited. 47 U.S.C. Section 302a(b). Parties in violation of these provisions may be subject to the penalties set out in 47 U.S.C. Sections 501-510. 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.
Returning to the New York Post, there hasn't been one jamming-related prosecution:
"This is not a crime that they're going after," said Rob Bernstein, deputy editor at New York City-based Sync magazine.

He said jammers are here, and their use is multiplying.

"Right now, there's a growing curiosity about jammers in the United States and New York," Bernstein said. "There's no better way to shut up a loudmouth on the phone, so people definitely want them and are finding ways to get them."

One way is at a spy shop on Third Avenue, which sells medium-sized jammers out of a back room for $1,500. The sales clerk there said he had sold jammers to a 50-year-old man who bought one to use on the Long Island Rail Road, and to restaurateurs.

One local purchaser bought a portable jammer last year, and said he likes using it at Roosevelt Field mall on Long Island.

"One time I followed this guy around for 20 minutes," he said. "I kept zapping him and zapping him, until finally he threw the phone on the floor. I couldn't stop laughing. It was so cool."

Jammers were first developed to help government security forces avert eavesdropping and thwart phone-triggered bombings. But by the late 1990s they were being sold to the public.

There are suspicions that some hotel chains employ jammers to cut down on guests' cellphone use and boost in-room phone charges.

While there's little that can be done about a busybody in a shopping center, hotels are fixed places of operation, and they'd be vulnerable to lawsuits.

(Personally, I'm not interested in blocking other people's calls, but if you want to get in on the crime wave, you can get a cell phone jammer here.)

UPDATE: The outlet above also sells a portable jammer which looks like a cell phone.

posted by Eric on 02.21.05 at 07:46 AM


Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Uncontrolled crime wave!:

» Cell phone courtesy. from blake taylor
Drudge links to this New York Post article this morning about cell phone jammers. Folks in New York who frequent large public places and ride public transit have apparently become a little fed up with cellular phone users, so they're buying boxes that... [Read More]
Tracked on February 21, 2005 12:40 PM


Have you heard about anything similar that will jam thump-thumping stereos??? I'd buy one in a heartbeat!

The PLUS side to all these cell phones is that they've gotten so tiny one can scarcely see them. Now I can wander around talking to myself and people think I'm normal.

It's a welcome change.

Persnickety   ·  February 21, 2005 1:36 PM

It should be illegal. Intefering with somebody's private phone conversation is a violation both of privacy and of free speech. I's not "cool" and I hope the jerk who thinks it is finds himself laughing his way into the clink. Maybe a considerable fine, too. Let him laugh about that.

Potentially dangerous, too. If one were a mugger/rapist/killer, one might consider investing in one of these to keep potential victims from calling for help.

BH   ·  February 22, 2005 12:55 PM

'"One time I followed this guy around for 20 minutes," he said. "I kept zapping him and zapping him, until finally he threw the phone on the floor. I couldn't stop laughing. It was so cool."'

Did the above-quoted asshole ever consider the possibility that he might be interfering with someone's ability to report a life-threatening emergency? Or is thoughtfulness not "cool" anymore? (I've heard enough of Ayn Rand to know it's not a "Classical Value.")

Oh, and thanx for telling more assholes how to get the hardware they need to make innocent people miserable. Thanx also for NOT telling us the range of these gizmos.

Raging Bee   ·  February 24, 2005 10:40 AM

Hey Cato the Elder, lighten up. You are probably the kind of person who thinks their personal conversation is oh so important that the rest of us have to listen to your side of the two-sided communication. Sorry, but too many inconsiderate slobs have created the cottage industry of cell phone jammers. It's a matter of protecting our individual sanity.

waldofudpucker   ·  March 10, 2005 4:46 PM

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