Should Cell Phone Jamming Devices Be Legal?

Have you ever been in the presence of someone talking obnoxiously on their cell phone? Sorry, dumb question. Have you ever asked them to tone it down a bit? What if you had the ability to kill the cell phone call without them even knowing what happened?

Should something like that be legal?

My initial reaction is no, it shouldn't be legal. But the idea is very tempting. And we have the technology. Currently such technology is illegal in the United States. Should it remain that way?

The International Herald Tribune had this interesting report yesterday:
One afternoon in early September, an architect boarded his commuter train and became a cellphone vigilante. He sat down next to a 20-something woman who he said was "blabbing away" into her phone.

"She was using the word 'like' all the time," said the architect, Andrew, who declined to give his last name because what he did next was illegal.

Andrew reached into his shirt pocket and pushed a button on a black device the size of a cigarette pack. It sent out a powerful radio signal that cut off the chatterer's cellphone transmission - and any others in a 30-foot, or 9-meter, radius.

"She kept talking into her phone for about 30 seconds before she realized there was no one listening on the other end," he said. His reaction when he first discovered he could wield such power? "Oh, holy moley! Deliverance."
Here's part of why it's illegal.
Using the jammers is illegal in the United States. The radio frequencies used by cellphone carriers are protected, just like those used by television and radio broadcasters.
What do you think? Was the guy vindicated? Even if it's illegal? What if somebody did it to you? Come to think of my case I wonder if they already have...


  1. Cell-phone vigilantes are no more polite than cell-phone yakkers. But there is no good reason to outlaw a device that only affects radio transmissions in a 30-foot radius.

    I would support the use of cell-phone jammers in theaters and restaurants, etc. There ought to be a sign that says "cell-phone free zone" or something.

  2. That's kind of along the lines of my thinking. I think a private establishment should be able to jam cell calls as long as they have a publicly displayed sign indicating something like you said--"Cell-phone free zone".

    In a public area, such as a train station, though, I don't know.

  3. Given the potential to interrupt emergency telecommunications, I would say they should most definitely remain illegal in all places. The frequencies that cell phones use (800MHZ, 850MHz, 900MHz, 1800MHZ, 1900MHz) are close enough to police and fire radio frequencies and many HAM bands (which, I might add, are used often in emergencies) that they can have potentially fatal effects. This is especially true since those bands can also interfere with some medical equipment. Because these are unlicensed devices, there's also no guarantee they won't bleed over into other frequencies or be used in inappropriate locations. This doesn't even get into the net effect of blocking E911 services. And what about doctors that need to be able to receive emergency pages?

    We're talking about putting people's lives on the line for your personal comfort. I'm not down with that.

  4. I'm trying to figure out why people get so annoyed at hearing half a conversation when they don't get annoyed at hearing the whole conversation. If it is okay for two people to talk together at a restaurant, why isn't it okay for one person to sit alone and talk on a cell phone in a restaurant?

    I don't have the answer, and yet for some unexplainable reason, the cell phone talker still feels wrong to me.

  5. I know this device is illegal but it could be useful to avoid that annoying people who insists in disturbing our silence... For the ones who also liked the idea, I've found a video ( that shows some interesting information about cell phone jammers: its functions, how it looks like inside and the best part is an information we all want to know: how effective it is. Hmm... I liked this video, maybe these informations can be useful in the future...

  6. Bradley,

    I think I WOULD be annoyed at a two-way in-person conversation if one or both people were talking as loudly as people often think they need to while they are on the cell phone.

    My most freaky experience in this regard happened about 5 years ago in a bookstore. This guy on the other side of the book table all of a sudden started talking to me very loudly about some book he liked, and I started to respond, but then I saw a hands-free earpiece. I was halfway embarrassed, and half-way irritated at the haughty way he seemed to exude "look at me, I can talk really loud on my neat hands-free cell phone!"

  7. This site has alot of info about cell phone jammers


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