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posted by martyb on Monday June 23 2014, @07:47AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the we-be-jammin'--be-costin' dept.

Anu Passary writes at Tech Times that the FCC has imposed a fine of $34.9 million on Chinese GPS signal jammer vendor CTS Technology who has been found guilty of advertising and selling around 300 types of signal jammers in the US over a period of two years. The $34.9 million fine is the highest the agency has ever imposed. FCC claims that CTS Technology also lied to customers that its products are FCC approved. According to the FCC document an undercover stingoperation was conducted to stop the illegal sale of signal jammers when FCC agents purchased 10 of the signal jammers sold by CTS Technology. They found that the jammers were effectively able to block mobile phone signals as well as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, satellite and GPS signals. Moreover, some of the signal jammers were able to block signals over a distance of half a mile.

"Signal jamming devices (also referred to as signal jammers) operate by transmitting powerful radio signals that overpower, jam, or interfere with authorized communications. While these devices have been marketed with increasing frequency over the Internet, they have no lawful consumer use in the United States. Jammers are not only designed to impede authorized communications and thereby interfere with the rights of legitimate spectrum users and the general public, their operations also place the safety of the public at risk," per the FCC document.

There are numerous jammers offered on the CTS site, ranging in size from handheld to a rolling suitcase. One handheld model, made in Guangdong, China, and priced at US$240, is advertised as having a range of 20 meters, "ideal for a large room, restaurant, cinema ... Or whilst having a conversation and you want to eliminate others from using mobile telephones." A larger, stationary model with eight antennas is said to cover "all of the popular wireless RF signals including, 2G/3G/4G mobile phone, WiFi Bluetooth, UHF, VHF, GPS, LoJack, remote control and so on."

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  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Fry on Monday June 23 2014, @07:53AM

    by Fry (642) on Monday June 23 2014, @07:53AM (#58905)

    Hey FCC, thanks for the free publicity! And good luck collecting that fine...

  • (Score: 3, Informative) by tathra on Monday June 23 2014, @08:03AM

    by tathra (3367) on Monday June 23 2014, @08:03AM (#58910)

    can i use one of these to block Stingray usage? once MIT+ACLU finishes SpideyApp, maybe we can get small groups of people dedicated to going around jamming any and all deployed stingrays. is it naive of me to think that even if they arrested the jamming crew on bullshit charges, they'd be forced to finally inform the courts about their unconstitutional and thus de facto illegal acts?

    • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Monday June 23 2014, @08:18AM

      by kaszz (4211) on Monday June 23 2014, @08:18AM (#58913) Journal

      The operator network and the stingray will both be unavailable. The stingray will most likely be different in how it behaves from the operator. One could make the phone send out a different IMSI or just plain flood the air with IMSI codes. Another option is a jammer that activates whenever a tower at the wrong location shows up. One has to remember these things are only active a very short time.

      Otoh, I think 3G requires the operator network to authenticate. Thus making the issue moot. Provided that 2G fallback is completely de-activated.

    • (Score: 1) by Horse With Stripes on Monday June 23 2014, @12:10PM

      by Horse With Stripes (577) on Monday June 23 2014, @12:10PM (#58958)

      Wouldn't blocking Stingray usage in an area also block all cell service in that same area? That would basically be the same as turning off your cellphone. So just turn off your cellphone when you are in an area that has deployed a Stingray.

      • (Score: 2) by tathra on Monday June 23 2014, @05:20PM

        by tathra (3367) on Monday June 23 2014, @05:20PM (#59081)

        well, if you're close enough you might just be able to block the stingray itself, preventing anyone from connecting to it (and if it kills any cell phones in the area, they're at least being protected); at least thats the idea. its not that i'd only be interested in preventing my cell phone from connecting to it, because obviously if i knew one was deployed i'd turn my phone off, but to protect everyone else in the area from being thoroughly violated without knowledge or recourse.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Tork on Monday June 23 2014, @08:23AM

    by Tork (3914) on Monday June 23 2014, @08:23AM (#58915)

    Dear FCC,

    Thank you, signal jamming is not, under any circumstances, a solution to a problem

    Signed,
    a Ham Radio Operator

    --
    Slashdolt Logic: "23 year old jokes about sharks and lasers are +5, Funny." 💩
    • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Monday June 23 2014, @09:00AM

      by bob_super (1357) on Monday June 23 2014, @09:00AM (#58920)

      One circumstance:
      Signal jamming relieves road rage symptoms when people start crashing into each other.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 23 2014, @05:15PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 23 2014, @05:15PM (#59078)

        > Signal jamming relieves road rage symptoms when people start crashing into each other.

        I don't see how that follows, but...
        It does prevent calls to emergency services when people have started crashing into each other.

  • (Score: 2) by WizardFusion on Monday June 23 2014, @09:04AM

    by WizardFusion (498) Subscriber Badge on Monday June 23 2014, @09:04AM (#58922) Journal

    I don't understand why these are used in prisons. Mobile phones are always an issue in prisons, just install a jammer and be done with it.
    Just make sure it doesn't interfere with the guards radios.

    • (Score: 2) by wonkey_monkey on Monday June 23 2014, @09:58AM

      by wonkey_monkey (279) on Monday June 23 2014, @09:58AM (#58933) Homepage

      I don't understand why these are used in prisons.

      I assume you meant "aren't", and the reason is... because they're illegal!

      --
      systemd is Roko's Basilisk
      • (Score: 2) by WizardFusion on Monday June 23 2014, @10:22AM

        by WizardFusion (498) Subscriber Badge on Monday June 23 2014, @10:22AM (#58938) Journal

        I did, thanks - I misses it on the re-read.!
        So, make them legal for specific uses only - which I know will them be open for abuse.

        • (Score: 2) by iwoloschin on Monday June 23 2014, @11:34AM

          by iwoloschin (3863) on Monday June 23 2014, @11:34AM (#58951)

          Just cover the prison in a faraday cage. It's surrounded by a fence on the sides already, so you just need the top and bottom covered too. Bonus points, this would help prevent tunnel or helicopter escapes!

          Oh, and cost naysayers, since when has that stopped the prison industry...we can just make some more stuff illegal and take care of that pesky budget right away...

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by cmn32480 on Monday June 23 2014, @11:10AM

      by cmn32480 (443) <{cmn32480} {at} {soylentnews.org}> on Monday June 23 2014, @11:10AM (#58947) Journal

      Maryland looked into doing this after there was a scandal involving a gang that ordered hits from inside a prison in Baltimore.

      Based on the article below, the FCC is allowing testing in prisons.

      http://articles.baltimoresun.com/2013-05-19/news/bs-md-ci-cell-phone-blocking-20130519_1_contraband-phones-new-technology-baltimore-city-detention-center [baltimoresun.com]

      --
      "It's a dog eat dog world, and I'm wearing Milkbone underwear" - Norm Peterson
    • (Score: 1) by Horse With Stripes on Monday June 23 2014, @12:15PM

      by Horse With Stripes (577) on Monday June 23 2014, @12:15PM (#58961)

      You can't use signal jammers in prisons because that would prevent guards from using their own cellphones while on the job. It would also interfere with the guards making a little extra $ by selling cellphones to inmates or turning their heads to inmates having & using them.

      • (Score: 2) by tibman on Monday June 23 2014, @12:57PM

        by tibman (134) Subscriber Badge on Monday June 23 2014, @12:57PM (#58972)

        Your view of humanity is amusing : ) Though probably not wrong : /

        --
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        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 23 2014, @05:30PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 23 2014, @05:30PM (#59087)

          No, I assure you its absolute fact. Prison guards are known to smuggle stuff for inmates, be it cellphones or drugs; some of the female guards even whore themselves out to inmates. If they're caught, its their ass, but the money is too good and the chances of being caught are slim so long as they don't get stupid and get themselves caught.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 23 2014, @05:12PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday June 23 2014, @05:12PM (#59076)

      > I don't understand why these aren't used in prisons.

      A couple of reasons:

      (1) Covering *just* the prison and not also impacting people outside the prison is pretty hard.
      (2) There are people who legitimately have cell phones in prison - staff, visitors (not just families of prisoners but also specialists like doctors).

      A better approach would be to put up something like one of those stingray cell interceptors that the DoJ is working over-time to hide from the public. A smart stingray will transparently let all the calls through and just record them for evidence, a sort of honeypot.

      Still not perfect for a couple of reasons:
      (1) if it goes off-line it has do so transparently so that legit cell phones continue to work for emergencies
      (2) Cell phones are a symptom not a cause, if they are blocked then people will find alternatives like two-way radios.

    • (Score: 2) by tathra on Monday June 23 2014, @05:25PM

      by tathra (3367) on Monday June 23 2014, @05:25PM (#59085)

      as you noticed, it'd probably interfere with the guards' radios. it might also interfere with the inmates' personal radios, which can be purchased legitimately through commissary. plus lots of guards make a lot of money on the side smuggling those phones in, so why would they want to cut off their source of funds?

  • (Score: 2) by Geezer on Monday June 23 2014, @01:02PM

    by Geezer (511) on Monday June 23 2014, @01:02PM (#58975)

    Protecting consumer enjoyment of the spectrum may be a valid reason for prohibition, but I think the real reason, couched in the "public safety" phrase, is that they don't tolerate even low-power, short-range jamming for home surveillance prevention. Nobody except psychopaths want to jam the fire brigade or Betty Boop's latest Instagram selfie, but local "noise" is a nice way to keep RF snoopers away too, should one so desire.

    • (Score: 2) by tangomargarine on Monday June 23 2014, @02:34PM

      by tangomargarine (667) on Monday June 23 2014, @02:34PM (#59009)

      Nobody except psychopaths want to jam [...] Betty Boop's latest Instagram selfie

      You must be new here.

      --
      "Is that really true?" "I just spent the last hour telling you to think for yourself! Didn't you hear anything I said?"
    • (Score: 2) by cafebabe on Tuesday June 24 2014, @10:37AM

      by cafebabe (894) on Tuesday June 24 2014, @10:37AM (#59320) Journal

      What public safety issue(s) does this raise which are worse than living next a cell tower or having a phone next to your brain for one hour per day?

      --
      1702845791×2
      • (Score: 2) by Geezer on Tuesday June 24 2014, @11:29AM

        by Geezer (511) on Tuesday June 24 2014, @11:29AM (#59337)

        I suppose they mean communications to/from/between first responders, like fire and emergency medical agencies.

  • (Score: 2) by tangomargarine on Monday June 23 2014, @02:37PM

    by tangomargarine (667) on Monday June 23 2014, @02:37PM (#59012)

    Anybody who has noticed all those labels on electronics that say "this device has been certified by the FCC to not produce any electromagnetic interference and must accept any interference it receives" or whatever it is would be given pause by "this device is FCC approved" for something specifically marketed as a jammer.

    --
    "Is that really true?" "I just spent the last hour telling you to think for yourself! Didn't you hear anything I said?"