Man Caught Using Cell Phone Jammer on Bus

No doubt we've all been in a situation where someone is talking loudly on their cell phone with little regard for those around them. But beyond throwing the offending person the filthiest look you can afford, or perhaps even asking them to keep their voice down, there's not a whole lot that can be done. After all, it's a free country, right?

Not content to just sit idly by and let his fellow passengers pollute the airwaves, one man took matters into his own hands and was recently caught in the act by NBC10. The man was a regular passenger on one of Philadelphia's SEPTA (Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority) buses and apparently grew frustrated with fellow passengers talking loudly on their cell phones. To remedy the situation, he purchased a cell phone jamming device. He would turn it on when fellow passengers used their phones and block them from receiving any signal.

The man, identified only as Eric, was spotted jamming people's cell phones by an NBC10 employee who tipped off her colleagues. When confronted by NBC10 investigators, Eric said, "I guess I’m taking the law into my own hands, and quite frankly, I’m proud of it." He later added that he doesn't want to hear people talking on their phones in public. "A lot of people are extremely loud, no sense of just privacy or anything. When it becomes a bother, that's when I screw on the antenna and flip the switch," he said.

When asked if he knew what he was doing was illegal, Eric said that as far as he knew, "it's more of a grey area." However, despite what Eric might think, buying, selling, owning or using a device that jams cell phone signals is illegal because it presents a threat to public safety. When confronted with the possibility that he could be interfering with someone trying to call 911, Eric said he imagined if there were such a situation, he would be right in the middle of it and would act accordingly.

"Well, of course if there were such a situation on the bus, I imagine I would be right in the middle of it. And I would imagine that would be a very different situation, of course; I’d imagine I’d be dialing 911 myself."

According to NBC10, shortly after they confronted Eric, he called them to say he had confirmed that his use of the cell phone jammer was illegal and would be disposing of the device. 

Cell phone jamming isn't a new concept but the fact that it can also interfere with other signals, such as police radios, means they're not exactly common-place. In 2010, one Maryland prison installed a cell phone jammer as part of a test -- the aim was to stop prisoners using cell phones to plan crimes happening outside of prison. However, even this move was considered controversial because of the risk of blocking signals areas adjacent to the prison.

What's your opinion on cell phone jammers? Are they too risky to be used at all, or do you think they'd be perfect for places like the movie theater or library? Let us know in the comments below!

Follow @JaneMcEntegart on Twitter.

Jane McEntegart works in marketing communications at Intel and was previously Manager of Content Marketing at ASUS North America. Before that, she worked for more than seven years at Tom's Guide and Tom's Hardware, holding such roles as Contributing Editor and Senior News Editor and writing about everything from smartphones to tablets and games consoles.

  • JasonAkkerman
    What a jack-hole. I hope someone prosecutes him.
  • kcorp2003
    I feel his pain. I always avoid using my cell phone and music player on my morning ride. reading the newspaper helps a lot and i like to be aware of my environment.
  • house70
    Come on! This is like 3 days old news!
    Please. There was even a video online with the interview from the local TV station.
  • hp79
    What an idiot. How did he even get caught? I totally understand him though.
  • amdfangirl
    Just a jammer? I would have bought an EMP device.

    Gotta hate those people who are on their iPods listening to music "privately".

    I was on a train where someone had Justin Beiber pumping loud and I was hlafway across the carriage and it drove me nuts.
  • mortsmi7
    I think it would be no more risky than it would've have been 25 years ago when cellphones were far less common. Of course these days peoples brains have been replaced by smart phones. So yeah, instant death will occur if cellphones are jammed.
  • Wolfshadw
    As a daily public transit rider, I've been tempted to do exactly what this individual has done. Why is it that some people have no regard for all the others on the bus/train? Each bus I ride on has a sign (though not prominent) which states, " Keep it low. Keep it short". Unfortunately, enforcing that would create a safety issue for the drivers as well as the commuters. Cell phone jammers seem like the perfect solution to me.
  • balister
    Considering a lot of places now have laws against people using cell phones and the like while driving, I'd love to be able to jam them like this guy. Nothing is more frustrating, as well as potentially dangerous, as someone driving and either talking, or worse, texting and being destracted from what is going on around them.
  • inanition02
    Yes nothing bad could come of this...

    I wouldn't want to be the one who bleeds to death waiting for a doctor/surgeon who never got the page because his pager was jammed. Or maybe it's an OB who's high risk patient goes into labor and the baby dies when said OB never arrives.

    Or the single parent that doesn't get a call about their child being in an accident? Also, those jammers jam radios too - do you want to be stuck on the bus when driver doesn't get the radio call/reroute about the traffic jam on the bridge ahead and gets stuck in it?

    Yes, people need to keep their private calls private - and not be on the phone on a bus/elevator/etc. But for better or worse, the way our world works relies on being able to reach people on a moments notice (Drs who are on call aren't required to literally be at the hospital, etc). And no one should take the law into their own hands.
  • inanition02
    balisterConsidering a lot of places now have laws against people using cell phones and the like while driving, I'd love to be able to jam them like this guy. Nothing is more frustrating, as well as potentially dangerous, as someone driving and either talking, or worse, texting and being destracted from what is going on around them.
    Right, because none of them are on critical calls that absolutely cannot wait. And you can certainly decide who can talk and who can't. 95% probably can wait - but those others may be life and death, how do you know?