Even while the Federal Communications Commission is asking for comments on the temporary blocking or disabling of wireless signals by law enforcement, it wants to stress to everyone that there is no legal gray area when it comes to cellphone jamming and jamming devices.
The issue has become a topic of discussion after a Philadelphia news station caught a man using an illegal cellphone jammer to shut up his fellow bus riders. At first the jammer claimed he believed what he was doing wasn’t completely illegal; he later changed his tune and said he’d dump the device.
“In recent days, there have been various press reports about commuters using cell phone jammers to create a ‘quiet zone’ on buses or trains,” says FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Michele Ellison. “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. The FCC Enforcement Bureau has a zero tolerance policy in this area and will take aggressive action against violators.”
The FCC even has a FAQ [click here for PDF] on the subject.
In short, only authorized agents of the federal government are allowed to use, own or even import jamming devices. You are not even allowed to use a cellphone jammer in the privacy of your own home.
Illegal use of a jamming device carries a penalty of up to $16,000 for each violation or each day of a continuing violation, or up to $112,000 for a single act.