A Philadelphia man who was ensuring some quiet on his daily bus rides has run afoul of federal law. The man, known only as Eric, was using a cell phone jammer to shut down fellow bus riders incessantly talking on their cell phones.
Speaking of those who talk very loudly on their mobile phones, Eric said, “It’s still pretty irritating and quite frankly it’s pretty rude.” He added, “A lot of people are extremely loud, no sense of just privacy or anything, when it becomes a bother, that’s when I screw on the antenna and flip the switch.”
Eric was using a cell phone jammer that he bought online. What he didn’t know was that cell phone jamming violates federal law.
An NBC10 employee, known only as “Marie,” saw him jamming other passengers’ cell phones while she was riding the bus with him to work. She said, “He’s blatantly holding this device that looks like a walkie-talkie with four very thick antennae. I started to watch him and any time somebody started talking on the phone, he would start pressing the button on the side of the device.”
NBC10 investigators went undercover and caught Eric jamming cell phones. When he got off the bus, they spoke to him, and told him that jamming is illegal. His reply was,
“It is my understanding it is more of a gray area. It is my understanding that it’s illegal to, you know, stop a television signal, a radio signal. You know, it’s my understanding according to the FCC that it’s not illegal to disrupt a cell phone signal.”
All that said, just a few hours after being confronted by the NBC10 Investigators, Eric called and told the station that after he did more research, he discovered they were correct and that he was going to dispose of the jammer.
While it may be illegal to jam cell phones, and there are valid safety reasons for that, it’s not as though there aren’t plenty in the public who would like to see jamming, at time.
For example, an informal 2006 poll done in the U.K. showed that 80 percent wanted theater management to do more to fix the issue of cell phones going off during shows, with the installation of blocking technology by far the most popular option.