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Cell Phone Jamming Devices Enjoy an Increase In Popularity 805

Posted by timothy
from the can-you-hear-me-carrier-lost dept.
rullywowr writes "A story run by local new NBC10 of Philadelphia last Friday illuminated the fact that this particular rider of the pubilc bus system is packing a cell phone jammer and is not afraid to use it. Going by the name of 'Eric,' whenever he sees someone being 'rude' on the bus and talking loudly on their cell phone, he screws the antenna on and flips the power switch. Regardless of the steep civil penalites levied by the FCC (up to $16,000 USD), many (such as 'Eric') are still interested by these devices which can be bought on the internet for $40 to over $1000. Opponents of these devices say that not only do they interfere with mobile phones, they often can interfere with 'behind the scenes' communication, Wi-Fi, etc. Despite being illegal, TFA points out that they are readily available on the internet (what else is new?). Do you have an instance where you experienced the positive (or negative) effects of a cell phone jammer?"
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Cell Phone Jamming Devices Enjoy an Increase In Popularity

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  • I approve (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WillyWanker (1502057) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @12:48PM (#39262297)
    This guy is my new hero, even though he later backed down and said he wasn't going to use it anymore. I for one am fed up with the constant assault of cell phone conversations from people who have no idea how to be considerate to those around them.
    • Re:I approve (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @12:50PM (#39262357)

      Because your good at judging who should be on the phone and who shouldn't.

      • Re:I approve (Score:4, Insightful)

        by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare&gmail,com> on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @01:01PM (#39262539) Homepage Journal

        if everyone else is trying to sleep on the bus/ train and you are loudly using your cell phone about an obviously nonurgent matter (your sister's crazy marriage, your kid's report card, your dog's diet, etc.) then you deserve to be jammed, with my full support, and with the support of everyone else trying to get some shuteye

      • by mvdwege (243851)

        If both they and the one making the call are in public, then yes, he is a good judge of who should be on the phone or not: the ones able to keep a conversation brief, or of sufficiently low volume that they don't bother anyone.

      • Re:I approve (Score:4, Insightful)

        by jimbolauski (882977) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @04:38PM (#39266127) Journal
        Here is a simple test to determine if you are being rude talking in a public setting.
        Movies, Plays, Recitals, Conferences, ... no cell phone use unless it is so important that you must leave the area and have no plans on returning.
        Public Transit, quiet talking for a short period of time if you are sitting next to someone, otherwise no time limit on the length of conversation just keep the conversation suitable for a public setting and use your indoor voice.
        Restaurants unless you want to convey that the phone conversation you are having is more important then the company you keep, keep it short.
        Sidewalks, streets, ... use a normal voice and keep the conversation suitable for the public.
        These are simple rules to follow, and anyone that is too ignorant or rude to follow them should be subjected to jamming of their call. The only thing that Eric did that was wrong was his jammer was omnidirectional so anyone using their cell phone in a proper manor could have been cut off.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      This guy is my new hero, even though he later backed down and said he wasn't going to use it anymore. I for one am fed up with the constant assault of cell phone conversations from people who have no idea how to be considerate to those around them.

      I hope you buy one then, and get your dick slammed in the cop car's door as they arrest your silly ass.

      If your idea of "being considerate" is to break everyone else's communications infrastructure, buy a pair of earplugs. Or better yet, get a screwdriver and insert until the problem goes away...

    • Re:I approve (Score:4, Interesting)

      by danomac (1032160) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @12:53PM (#39262413)

      I generally don't use my cell phone where I think you shouldn't. This includes restaurants, theatres, public transit, etc.

      If it rings, I may look at it to see who is calling. I won't answer it and sometimes just leave the phone on vibrate.

      I don't understand why people think they must be able to talk on the phone everywhere. I find it more annoying now with a cell phone, as people pretty much expect you to answer it as they're calling you directly and not your house.

      • Re:I approve (Score:5, Interesting)

        by tlhIngan (30335) <slashdotNO@SPAMworf.net> on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @01:09PM (#39262729)

        I generally don't use my cell phone where I think you shouldn't. This includes restaurants, theatres, public transit, etc.

        If it rings, I may look at it to see who is calling. I won't answer it and sometimes just leave the phone on vibrate.

        I don't understand why people think they must be able to talk on the phone everywhere. I find it more annoying now with a cell phone, as people pretty much expect you to answer it as they're calling you directly and not your house.

        I do it in degrees. If it's a casual group of my friends, I will excuse myself and leave the group to take the call outside, so I don't subject them to my conversation, then return back when I'm done.

        If it's a more formal event, phone's on vibrate and only in dire emergencies would I answer. And even then I'd politely excuse myself from the group.

        And texting/emailing is a no-no unless there's a very good reason - all live conversations have priority over a texted one except in emergencies. Surfing the web is limited to only if it's something the group requires (e.g., resolving an argument or looking something up).

        And no, I don't have voicemail.

        Anyhow, yes it's illegal, but if you do it right, it can be hard to detect (the only way to track a jammer is to triangulate its position - there's no magic CSI GPS beacon). Perhaps when the bus reaches a certain intersection implying a dead spot for signals, and never more than neessary to break the connection (should just be a few seconds).

        I suppose the bigger question is - why have manners deteriorated to the point that the general public feels it's necessary to take technological measures to fix social problems? The purchase and use of jammers is just a symptom of an underlying societal problem

      • Re:I approve (Score:4, Informative)

        by XxtraLarGe (551297) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @01:25PM (#39263005) Journal

        I don't understand why people think they must be able to talk on the phone everywhere.

        The worst place is in a public restroom. I've seen people sit down in one of the stalls and carry on a conversation all the while they're vacating themselves, complete with grunts, groans and other bodily noises. Another time, a guy was singing along with his music that he was playing over his phone speakers.

    • Re:I approve (Score:5, Interesting)

      by DigiShaman (671371) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @01:00PM (#39262519) Homepage

      My proposal for movie theaters and restaurants. By default, these facilities should have cell phone jamming technology enabled with a clear sign stating as such. Also, the sign will point to a red painted receiver designated for 911 use only. Think of the emergency concept of a fire extinguisher and apply that to wired phones and you get the idea.

      • Re:I approve (Score:5, Insightful)

        by pedrop357 (681672) * on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @01:03PM (#39262601)

        The other problem is that many times the person claims the jamming signal is confined solely within their property/building/domain, yet the jamming signal affects those outside of the jammer's property. That becomes a huge problem.

        Those who wish to stop cell phone use should first STOP installing indoor repeaters, then use some form of radio wave blocking paint/building materials. Whatever method they use should be passive and not directly interfere with other property's cell phone signals.

      • by gstoddart (321705)

        My proposal for movie theaters and restaurants. By default, these facilities should have cell phone jamming technology enabled with a clear sign stating as such.

        My biggest fear of this would be interfering with some implanted medical devices.

        Make some poor bastards pacemaker stop working, and you're gonna be in for a world of hurt when the lawyers show up.

        I think the unintended consequences of this needs to be better understood before we just go deploying these things around to make people stop using their

        • If a cell phone jammer can penetrate into your pacemaker and interfere with it then they need to design them better. Why would a pacemaker be responsive to cell phone frequencies anyway? There are plenty of other sources of radio noise already too.

      • Why does it have to be active? You can certainly design buildings such that all signals die. There are probably cheaper alternatives out there than a copper mesh.

      • Re:I approve (Score:4, Informative)

        by Charliemopps (1157495) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @02:09PM (#39263873)
        It would be more effective and have less side effects if they just constructed the room with materials that naturally turned it into a Faraday cage. I think it would be relatively trivial to invent wallpaper that was made with a sheet of conductive metal film. Overlap them, connect them to a ground (any plumbing fixture would do) and cellphones would stop working inside that room. You don't have all of the problems that jammers cause or any legal issues with the FCC.

        You would still need a clear sign indicating that cellphones will not work in the theater... and people like me wouldn't be able to go (I'm on call 24/7and have my phone on vibrate)

        A less intrusive solution would be to have a friendly bluetooth or wifi signal that indicated that "This area is a vibrate only area" and get the cellphone manufacturers on-board. Then the theater could set your phone to vibrate for you if you let them. This would let people like me, who HAVE to have their phone with them at all times, still go to the movies.
    • Re:I approve (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Hentes (2461350) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @01:03PM (#39262591)

      But sadly that is only a partial solution. There are also jerks on the bus who dare to talk to each other. Sadly, in this case phone jamming doesn't work, you have to gag them individually. But that still isn't enough, most buses/subways have engines that are even louder than talking people. I still haven't figured out a way to stop those engines, but I'm working on it...

    • Re:I approve (Score:4, Insightful)

      by SiChemist (575005) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @01:26PM (#39263023) Homepage

      And Mr. Wanker lives up to his slashdot handle. It's ironic that you say,

      I for one am fed up with the constant assault of cell phone conversations from people who have no idea how to be considerate to those around them.

      when its obvious that you "have no idea how to be considerate to those around them" if you advocate disrupting everyone else's communication devices. The guy sitting next to you quietly streaming pandora over his mobile device and listening via headphones should not have his communications interrupted by an inconsiderate asshole like yourself.

    • by SuperBanana (662181) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @01:37PM (#39263243)

      I for one am fed up with the constant assault of cell phone conversations from people who have no idea how to be considerate to those around them.

      While you're sitting there like a fat little smug antisocial nerd who thinks the world revolves around him and reading his Ayn Rand in peace and quiet, the psychologist three seats in front of you is desperately hoping that none of his patients are feeling suicidal at that particular moment.

      I have friends who are doctors, some of them psychologists. They're on call a great deal of the time, and people don't call their psychologist to talk about the weather. They call with things like "I'm having suicidal thoughts."

      I have a friend who is an eye surgeon. When she's on-call, she sometimes gets patients who have hours or less before they could permanently lose their eyesight from an injury or complications from an earlier surgery.

      I'm not saying THEY are more important. I'm saying their PATIENTS are. You have not seen panic until you've seen a psychologist who has a private practice and discovers her cell phone ran out of battery at some point, and she's an hour from a charger...

      I've actually seen a psych emergency unfold, too - the psychologist-friend working with 911 operators and the police and EMS to find the patient and get them to a hospital. That can't happen unless they can reach their doctor to ask for help. Too bad for them some fat asshole nerd is sitting there giggling with his cell phone jammer.

  • by darjen (879890) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @12:49PM (#39262335)

    If someone was doing this while I commute to work, and I wasn't able to use my 3g connection, I would be pissed.

    • by Hnice (60994) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @12:56PM (#39262447) Homepage

      Yeah -- I mean, this is the problem. Like, frequently -- most of the time -- I sort of wish that talkers would, you know, die, but there's lots of unobtrusive usage that's nobody's business.

      I'll tell you what I really think is going to happen: I think in 10 or 15 years, we're going to look back on this time period, and be sort of aghast at how people behaved with regards to their phones. I don't accept that things are moving in a more-talk-is-OK direction, I think that there's the possibility that this is a manners-haven't-caught-up-to-tech blip. There's going to be a certain amount of soul-searching as we deal with the driving issue, and I'm hoping that what will come out of that will be, 'Wait -- is what I have to say really important enough to need saying, now, in these circumstances?'

      And I'm not generally optimistic about human nature. But cell phone usage, I just don't see how this can go on very much longer as it is -- I mean, it's raw uncut assholishness, all the time, and everyone KNOWS it, but for now, they all DO IT anyway.

      My fingers are crossed for what alcoholics refer to as a 'moment of clarity'.

  • ladyada (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AtomicAdam (959649) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @12:51PM (#39262371)
    I saw designs on Limor fried's Site years ago that she made for her thesis I believe. It's a good read. Either way it's funny how long these things took to become popular http://www.ladyada.net/make/wavebubble/index.html [ladyada.net] TFL for anyone who can't google
  • by christoofar (451967) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @12:51PM (#39262377)

    I can tell you with what joy it is to live in a city where listening to B-grade hip hop music on tinny cell phone speakers is the norm. That you can't stop, but when I have to be subjected to a very lengthy screaming match between baby-momma and her baby-daddy, with a push of a button I can cut that nonsense out. If you want to do that nonsense, then get off the train at the next stop and have your bitch fest there.

    I can't do much about the panhandlers that pass through the trains hocking bootleg DVDs, scented oils or begging for quarters, but I CAN do something about the chaff of society who can't keep their Jerry Springer drama to themselves, and so I shut them down with a jammer. If an emergency crops up, I turn the device off.

    • by ceoyoyo (59147) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @12:57PM (#39262469)

      If you've got an issue with a particular person talking on her phone, sit down beside her and make snarky remarks until she shuts up or hits you. Don't interfere with everyone else in the area just for your personal convenience. Hey... that's what you're mad at baby mamma for doing isn't it?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's public transit. Deal with it, or find private transportation - you don't have the right to a bitch-free ride on SEPTA. Anyone using a jammer is just being an asshat, not to mention breaking the law which exists for a good reason.

    • by SJester (1676058) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @01:00PM (#39262525) Journal
      I ride the infamous A train in NYC and my jammer is a relief. I experience much the same - hellfire preachers, drunks pissing on the floor, and stoned thugs arguing about which court they're supposed to be in today. The train is held at the station about once a month for police to search it. My ride is nearly two hours and a jammer makes it a bit quieter. I don't even turn it on for most of the ride; why would I interfere with Words with Friends or a quiet phone call? But when someone starts screaming into their phone they discover there's no service anymore.
    • by QuasiSteve (2042606) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @01:10PM (#39262739)

      I can tell you with what joy it is to live in a city where listening to B-grade hip hop music on tinny cell phone speakers is the norm. That you can't stop

      You can't, or you won't?

      but when I have to be subjected to a very lengthy screaming match between baby-momma and her baby-daddy, with a push of a button I can cut that nonsense out.

      I see...

      I can't do much about the panhandlers that pass through the trains hocking bootleg DVDs, scented oils or begging for quarters,

      really? you can't? hmm

      but I CAN do something about the chaff of society who can't keep their Jerry Springer drama to themselves, and so I shut them down with a jammer

      Oh okay, I see what you're saying now.

      If you could turn off all the B-grade hip hop music with the push of a button, you would.
      If you could shut the panhandlers down with a jammer, you would.

      In essence, if you could do something about X in practical anonymity with an easily concealed device with little to no chance of getting caught, you would.

      Don't get me wrong, I'm not calling you chickenshit. Certainly it's much better to avoid conflict with the baby-momma and her posse by just letting her call drop instead of confronting her in person.

      Unfortunately, however, it also means you're affecting the person just quietly talking, the person just doing some texting, the person just browsing the web, and - provided that the bus isn't a magic faraday cage for your outgoing jammer signal - anybody in the vicinity of the bus.

      Not to mention that...

      If an emergency crops up, I turn the device off.

      ...it's impossible for you to determine that. For one thing, you can't magically know about remote emergencies that require a person to be called.

      For another, what if you are the emergency? You're on the highway, you get a heart attack, you fall down, your jammer's still on - nobody can call it in.. they flag down another driver, their phone doesn't work either, they figure it must just be reception there, so (rather than asking another drive to call from somewhere where they can get a signal) they drive the bus further to get a signal again, but still nothing.

      I know, society survived without cellphones, I'm sure it will when somebody misses, or can't place, an important call just as well.

      But please do choose your jamming moments wisely, and consider the unintended consequences - be that your own untimely demise (I <3 my contrived example!) or somebody's casual game of Wordfeud being cut short.

    • by yodleboy (982200)
      so basically you're saying your response to a rude public asshole is to be a rude secret asshole? Public transportation pal, if you can't tolerate other people, get some noise cancelling headphones, or better yet get a car. I rode the bus and train for many years before telecommuting and I agree these loud talkers are annoying, but they are legal. You on the other hand are breaking the law to enforce your little cone of silence. Tell you what, next time you're talking to someone how would you like it if
  • by JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @12:53PM (#39262407)
    Movie theaters come to mind at first, granted I don't go all that often, but still.
    They always have that announcement that everyone ignores to turn off your phone
    This way they don't have to ask, they just stop working.
    If there's some sort of emergency, I'm sure the theaters have a wired phone somewhere they can use quickly.
  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @12:57PM (#39262475)

    Do you have an instance where you experienced the positive (or negative) effects of a cell phone jammer?"

    Yeah. I was having a stroke and nobody could understand why I was flopping about with half my face looking like it was ready to melt off. I reached for my phone, dialed 911... and nothing happened. Then I died. I had to submit this as a ghost because nobody thinks about what blocking a communications medium does to innocent people, they just want to get at the one asshole amongst the dozens or so in the area abusing it.

    • Re:negative effect (Score:5, Informative)

      by janeuner (815461) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @01:06PM (#39262655)

      In fictional settings, people retain enough dexterity to dial a phone while having a stroke.

  • by John Napkintosh (140126) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @12:57PM (#39262479) Homepage

    Audio pollution isn't something you get to have control over. Feel free to tell someone they're being annoying, but sometimes you're just going to have to deal with someone talking on their phone in a way that annoys you. If it's not that, it will be someone talking loudly to the person standing next to them. Or a person honking their horn to much or for no reason. Or someone with their cell phone's speaker turned on as they listen to MP3s. Or jackhammers or machinery or the buzz of a refrigerator. How are you going to jam that?

    • by Jawnn (445279) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @01:14PM (#39262805)
      True, we do not have the right to not be annoyed, in public places. The bus/train arguably qualifies as "public", but I will never understand why, for example, restaurants and movie theaters (most of them) tolerate behavior this is, to say the least, boorish and disruptive to the experience of the other customers. Just once, I'd love to see the dumb-ass at the next table have her meal removed and shown the door, with the explanation that manners count and those without them are unwelcome.
  • by Matt_Bennett (79107) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @12:59PM (#39262509) Homepage Journal

    I've seen the effect upon drivers talking on their phones while driving. While talking on the phone, their speed is erratic and inconsistent, they wander around their lane. Once in range of such a device, they look at their phone for a second or two, put the phone down, and start to pay attention to the machine that they are controlling. Once their conversation ends, they have become much more responsible drivers, aware of those that are sharing the road with them.

    Just an observation. I understand that jammers are illegal for very good reasons, and their abuse can lead to much more harm than good.

    • by Ferzerp (83619)

      No. Not abuse. Their *use* leads to much more harm than good. The only place that "use" is not abuse is turning them on in a private faraday cage on your own property.

      There is no use case for these devices that do not run afoul of extremely well reasoned laws. In fact, the laws prohibiting the use of these things are one of the few sane laws that we do have.

  • Up the penalties (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @01:01PM (#39262545)

    Obviously the potential penalties are not high enough. This is naked vigilanteism and should be stopped cold and hard.

    YOU don't have RIGHT to interfere in MY liberty. If I'm being an asshole and talking loudly on the bus, then call a cop. That's how law and order works.

    What's next, you firing an EMP gun at my house because my lights are interfering with your desire to stargaze?

    Are you going to poison my dog because he barks too much or shits too much?

    This one's a real slippery slope people.

  • Jammin' (Score:4, Funny)

    by Kenja (541830) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @01:03PM (#39262603)
    Ooh, yeah! All right! We're jammin': I wanna jam it wid you. We're jammin', jammin', And I hope you like jammin', too. Ain't no rules, ain't no vow, we can do it anyhow: I'n'I will see you through, 'Cos everyday we pay the price with a little sacrifice, Jammin' till the jam is through.
  • by Cytotoxic (245301) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @01:05PM (#39262629)

    I haven't run into a cell phone jammer - as far as I know - but I do have a pirate radio station nearby that is pretty annoying. They are some kind of Hatian radio station that moves around the area. Their transmitter is low power, so it only covers a few square miles - but it is extremely noisy, so it stomps all over 3-4 stations when you are in the area. Missing the end of an interesting story on NPR because I'm driving through their broadcast zone is more annoying than I would have thought.

    I can only imagine that getting knocked off of my phone would be even more annoying. Heck, I've considered firing an anti-radiation (HARM) missile at the Hatians, and I only missed out on hearing the end of "This American Life".... Cut off my wife and who knows what might happen?

  • by darkpixel2k (623900) <aaron@heyaaron.com> on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @01:05PM (#39262631) Homepage

    Do you have an instance where you experienced the positive (or negative) effects of a cell phone jammer?

    The problem is bigger than you realize. I'm constantly dropping calls. If anyone is actually able to complete a call, tell AT&T their network is constantly being jammed.

    (Maybe tell Blackberry their service is frequently jammed for days on end too)

  • by DarthVain (724186) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @01:20PM (#39262927)

    Talking loudly isn't limited to cell phones. Trying to modify behavior by limiting technology isn't the answer. The answer is modifying behavior by establishing consequences.

    Example: Loud Cell Phone User in Theater. This actually happened to me a year or so ago, where not only was someone rude and stupid enough to leave their phone on during the movie (which of course got a call), but to actually answer the call, and not only just answer the call and exit to talk, but to sit there in the middle of the movie, talking loudly. I couldn't believe it, I was stunned to the point of not doing anything about it. Fortunately some actually got up, walked down to the guys isle, and actually shouted at him "SHUT YOUR DAMN PHONE OFF", to which got cheers from the crowd.

    Anyway, go to Theater manager and demand your money back... for having your viewing entertainment ruined. If the theater has a problem with that, perhaps then they should then try to recoup (sue) the individual who was at fault, and let them pay for the entire crowd.

    I am sure one bill of 15$ x 100 people will be enough to stop any individual from doing something like that again. Behavior changed. Also when others hear of this, you can bet that they will be extra careful to turn off their phones, etc...

    I mean how hard is it to put it on vibrate, and if it is important call to, go outside to answer it.

  • Censorship? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Veggiesama (1203068) on Tuesday March 06, 2012 @01:34PM (#39263155)

    Folks, this is Slashdot, so I expect some more consistency in in your positions. Here we are supposed to be proponents of network neutrality, ardent supporters of anti-censorship methods, and unrepetent voices in support of freedom of information all over the world. We don't like governments mucking with DNS servers, and we hate the publishing companies trying to tell us how we should and shouldn't use our media.

    Yet, here is a guy who passes swift judgment on others and renders their expensive cell phones inoperable for the sole reason that a single individual personally annoys him. He does this anonymously in public spaces, and the victims of his jammer have no recourse to repair their device. The loud, obnoxious caller suffers the same fate that the quiet girl chatting to her mother from three seats back does: everyone is silenced indiscriminately.

    For some bizarre reason, the hivemind of Slashdot holds this one-man censorship czar in high esteem, but they would probably object to a public school, library, or hospital prohibiting cell phone use via means of a jammer for the same reasons he uses.

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