November 4, 2007

“SWEET BUT ILLEGAL:” A look at portable cellphone jammers:

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 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 moly! Deliverance.”

I can imagine some downsides, though. As the article notes, these have considerable utility for terrorists or criminals. And even a non-criminal could accidentally block a vital call.

If you want to prank annoying things in public spaces, consider TV-zapping instead. But as I’ve noted before, even there, there are questions about ethics.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Ken Johnson explains another problem:

My wife has hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition with which I believe you are familiar. For 30 years, she been slowly losing her battle with the disease and is now on the list to receive a heart transplant.

Neither she nor I had a cellphone when she went on the list. We purchased two of those cheap, pay-as-you-go phones so the hospital can contact us if a heart becomes available.

Basically, we’re waiting for one life-changing phone call — and if we’re sitting next to one of these lawbreaking, self-righteous jerks when it comes, we’ll miss it.

Who the hell do these people think they are that they imagine they have a right to interfere with the communications infrastructure in the United States?

Yeah, that’s the kind of thing I meant.

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