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!

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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.