Cellphone jamming raises transit users' ire

Silencing the loudmouth cellphone user across the aisle is surely a common fantasy among transit riders. But how often do they fulfill their wish and become peace-and-quiet vigilantes - despite decades-old laws against blocking radio transmissions?

That question was raised by a report last week on NBC's Philadelphia affiliate, which interviewed a rider who acknowledged phone jamming on a city bus, and by a subsequent story on Forbes.com that also quoted unidentified jammers in the New York and Washington areas.

The answer is unclear. Although a spokeswoman for SEPTA, Philadelphia's transit system, said there had been no previous complaints from riders, Forbes called the practice "much more commonplace on the rails in both New York and Washington." In October, the took action against 20 U.S. businesses - including Yapper Zapper of Corona, N.Y., and the Signal Jammer of Los Angeles - that it said were selling illegal jammers online, as sites such as China's Jammerall.com still do.

The enforcements follow a "significant uptick" in jamming complaints over the last several years, according to an FCC official who spoke on condition of anonymity and said most incidents are probably never reported.

"These devices are unlawful, and we have a no-tolerance policy," Michele Ellison, chief of the FCC's enforcement bureau, said in statement saying the agency was investigating the Philadelphia report.

According to NBC10 in Philadelphia, a rider identified as "Eric" said he jammed calls on the bus because he found them irritating and rude.

"I guess I'm taking the law into my own hands, and quite frankly I'm proud of it," said Eric, a balding, bespectacled man that NBC10 tracked down after complaints from a staffer that Forbes identified as writer Teresa Masterson. NBC10 did not respond to requests for comment.

Masterson, identified on NBC10's report only as "Marie," said she became disturbed when she and fellow commuters on the Ardmore-Philadelphia route suddenly lost phone connections - failures appearing to coincide with another rider's pushing buttons on a handheld device.

"How dare you decide that I can't speak to somebody, or I can't use my cellphone?" Masterson asked.

Eric told NBC10 that he was enforcing "a right to privacy - to be left alone."

The FCC's Ellison said jammers such as Eric are taking serious risks, such as blocking a scared teen from calling 911 or an elderly person from placing an urgent medical call. "The price for one person's moment of peace or privacy could very well be the safety and well-being of others," she said.

SEPTA spokeswoman Jerri Williams said the transit system itself wasn't at risk.

"The cellphone jammer that the average person can buy online poses absolutely no threat to our communications," she said.

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User comments

Mar 09, 2012
Jammerall company is actually copied the production of other company and selling cheap Chinese fakes. Just search Google or Bing of their review and you will fond lots of negative feedbacks. The only company on the market which was registered in Sweden and currently holding the Trade Mark for jamming equipment is Jammer Store, Inc. (and their website jammer-store.com). I am not able to say something good or bad about their production, because to tell the truth and don't have $400 extra to buy one of their GPS jammers, however one friend of mine, he is not from USA ofcourse:), bought one of their jammers last year and he told me he was extremely happy with his purchase. What about legality of these devices, I think that with all these news they just increasing the attention to this niche,and more and more people from America will buy these jammers, just imagine that the word "cell phone jammers" was in top 10 trending on google last week.

Mar 09, 2012
Ellerson is a liar.
I have been subjected to nauseating loud conversations by morons on rail services and none were seeking assistance for threat or health reasons. As these morons wish to inflict the dreary boredom of their pathetic lives upon others we should all have the right to silence them.

Mar 10, 2012
Cellphone jammers are a cowards approach. Why not simply tell the persons to shut up or at least lower their voices?

Mar 10, 2012
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Mar 10, 2012
There should be one in every car that's running. It's the only way to stop women from talking or texting while allegedly driving. And they want to hand them guns in combat? They can't even drive properly undistracted let alone with a cell phone in hand. And a lot of men aren't any better.

Apr 28, 2012
AlfonsoR, Jammer-Store.com is as "SWEDISH" as we are! It is copying all their jammers from the real manufacturer/distributor from China, Chinajammer.com Just go to both websites and see for yourself!!! In ordered one VHF/UHF jammer from jammer-store.com last year for my client from Brazil, and it was shipped from Hong Kong with DHL, not exactly Sweden...LOL I found the same unit on Chinajammer website for 50% less! Jammer-store is a bogus, copycat website doubling the prices and ordering products from chinese distributor. It is run by one russian man, Michael K. based in London, UK. I do not have any experience with Jammerall company, my only concern is that they do not accept Paypal payments,ONLY direct CC payments, WU payments or Bank transfers only (due to Paypal recently shutting down their account with them). But their communication was swift, accurate and professional, so I may give them a try.

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