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We Jammin’

And the FCC like jammin’ too — if it will bring in $25K from a fine the agency is attempting to levy onto, hailing out of the UK, and still doing their thing.

ArsTechnica is reporting that a beauty school in Texas patronized England’s, something I almost did once for kicks, purchasing three five watt cell jammers (850-2100MHz, effective for GSM, PCS and CDMA in a radius of up to 25m). AT&T caught wind of it and dropped a dime.

Not the first time the fuzz got static on these guys. Last March they got a complaint from a Florida county sheriff whose deputies were having failures to communicate. The FCC drove around in their trucks and pinpointed the source, an eight watt jammer sold to a local business by none other than Phonejammer.

Armed with the sales receipt the FCC and a printout of their website the FCC confronted Phonejammer which claimed that it “does not market to the US and has not shipped nor distributed units to the US” and that they note on their website that such devices are not legal in the US, but failing to provide any evidence affirming that they are behaving themselves and respecting US law.

That vexed the feds enough to cook up a PDF of a formal “notice of apparent liability for forfeiture” against Phonejammer for “willful and repeated violations” of the rules, concluding that “under [US laws] Phonejammer is apparently liable for forfeiture for its apparent willful and repeated violation of Section 302(b) of the Act and Section 2.803 of the Rules.”

The document goes on to note that each day of apparent continued flaunting of our laws this company’s tab may go up $16K for any subsequent individual violations and up to $112,500 for any single continuing violation (I’m not sure what the difference is but that’s a lot of dough). Long/short, “IT IS ORDERED” that yada yada, give us a $25K check made out to the FCC.

Couple [paragraphs’ worth of] questions to you readers. What authority does the FCC have over a foreign company to squeeze out a fine that would possibly drive the company under? Good relations with that company’s country? What if it were a country with whom we never really hit it off, but the FCC was very determined to either get the find, stop the company from selling this stuff to the US or otherwise get fully shut down somehow?

Do you think, if at least done responsibly, business, schools and other outfits should be able to order their jammers online with the government looking the other way until things get problematic, or is the principle of citizens jamming just a bad thing period? Any legal ways to set up a movie theater to muffle cell signals, like thick walls or a Faraday cage, instead of using something spewing out radiomagnetic garbage?

If that kind of thing is legal, then the concern of the founding fathers when drafting these FCC laws was most likely just about the jamming getting out of control and in the wrong directions, rather than just being isolated to the inside of a particular building or classroom? Should the Texas beauty school be liable for anything or are they not the bigger fish in this situation? Three jammers, now those are some irritated teachers. Those aren’t cheap and they knew it was illegal.

Any similar stories of such loud attempts of enforcement against foreign online pharamcies? Maybe there’s a line Phonejammer crossed when their equipment scrambled up communications of law enforcement. But haven’t you ever wished you had a pocket-sized jammer while riding on the train, either to get some sleep, focus or just to feel powerful? I have. Here’s your hyperlink.

Doug Simmons