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back to article FCC seeks $48K fine from mobile phone-jamming driver

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is asking for a $48,000 fine to be levied against a man who allegedly kept a phone jammer in his car. The FCC said that it would be seeking to impose three counts of a $16,000 penalty against Florida resident Jason Humphreys for illegally operating a mobile phone jamming device and …

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FAIL

Yo, Jason!

Who died and appointed you the God of All Spectrum?

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Re: Yo, Jason!

Well if you saw how people "drive" while totally focused on their phones around here, you'd have a little sympathy for him (not that it makes it right) - I nearly got rear-ended by one Sunday[1] and I watched someone nearly get rear-ended by one the day before that.

This guy in a Charger is just sitting about 4 car lengths behind the line at a green light, staring down at his phone. Nobody in front of him, they've all driven away. The guy behind him goes around, only to have Mr. Dodge Charger wake up and go... except the light turns red, the other guy stops, and the Charger displays an excellent anti-lock braking system.

Then there was the 4 local university students killed when their driver was texting and drove through a red light. Or the girl in a crosswalk hit by a guy that was texting.

The guy needs to restrict his jammer to the cellular bands.

[1] damn, I was hoping to have the other half of my house paid for...

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Re: Yo, Jason!

Agreed. This guy has done more for getting people off their phones while driving than anyone else has, ever. Fines are not a deterrent around here, because no-one ever gets fined.

Seen someone front row at red lights on their phone, completely oblivious to the pair of cops walking across the road and stopped in front of her. - They pointed and shook their heads, but didn't do anything else (they presumably didn't want to lose their appointment at the doughnut shop).

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yo, Jason!

Well, you WILL live in a third world country

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Re: Yo, Jason!

Ok, so all these cars with built-in mobile telephony for their nav and streaming media and whatnot, all those people using properly secure phones or tablets as GPS, or hands-free, or passengers using their devices, or all those GPS devices that use the same frequencies to provide live updates for traffic information...

These are all just collateral damage, I suppose.

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Anonymous Coward

I wish he'd sit next to me

On my next train journey.

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Re: Yo, Jason!

Restricting it to the cellular bands is a great idea. Until your wife goes into labour in the car, or another passenger is in need of the emergency services. You haven't really thought that one through have you...

Just because it's dangerous doesn't mean a blanket ban on anyone in need of a communications device is the solution.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yo, Jason!

"Then there was the 4 local university students killed when their driver was texting and drove through a red light. Or the girl in a crosswalk hit by a guy that was texting."

Very sad for the deaths, however it has to be pointed out that if there was a chance of the victims surviving and someone like this guy was in the area then no one would be able to call the emergency services to get them the help they needed in time.

Mobile phone use while driving is one of the only times where big brother should step in in my opinion. Manufacturers should put in software to detect when the phone is travelling faster than 10MPH and disable all calls and messaging functions. They could be more advanced and link it to GPS so that it doesn't disable on planes and trains, but doing that as well may not be a bad thing.

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Re: Manufacturers should put in software to detect when the phone is travelling faster than 10MPH

Total bollocks. I have always hated people driving with a phone pressed against their ear, and have always used a wireless earpiece, even going back to feature phones in the early '00s. This is clearly safer (and bugger the various reports that say any distraction should be banned). It's the wankers that hold the fucking thing in their hand and even text on it that have caused all these accidents and precipitated the various nanny laws coming out around the world. Now we all have to suffer as a result.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Manufacturers should put in software to detect when the phone is travelling faster than 10MPH

"Total bollocks."

It really isn't. The advice from the police is that your phone should be switched off and out of reach when driving, they know no one does that, but that is their advice.

"and bugger the various reports that say any distraction should be banned"

Ohh I see, yes, never let facts get in the way of having a good argument.

"It's the wankers that hold the fucking thing in their hand and even text on it that have caused all these accidents and precipitated the various nanny laws coming out around the world."

Oh really? Tell that to the insurance company and the CPS who successfully convicted the driver that smashed into my car because he was distracted by having a conversation on his Bluetooth headset.

It's the wankers like you that think they can continue to drive whilst being distracted that are the real danger on the road. It is a fact, and no scientific study has ever disagreed, that talking whilst driving (be it to passengers in the car or on a mobile phone) would increase the time it would take you to react to a hazard on the road. That difference could mean that the child that jumps out on you gets clipped by your car as you swerve to avoid them and falls over with broken bones, rather than going straight over your bonnet and smashing their head on the windscreen killing them.

If you think your phone calls are so important that they cannot wait until you reach your destination then please do us all a favour and pull over and let the rest of us drive with one less self absorbed arsehole who thinks they are better than others on the road.

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Re: Yo, Jason!

@AC "...software to detect when the phone is travelling faster than 10MPH and disable all calls and messaging functions."

Ah, excuse me. Cars have more than one seat. As in: passengers; not driving.

So. Think much?

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Re: Yo, Jason!

"Very sad for the deaths, however it has to be pointed out that if there was a chance of the victims surviving and someone like this guy was in the area then no one would be able to call the emergency services to get them the help they needed in time."

Back to the question of whether two wrongs make a right. Doing no more research than Wikipedia, I dug up a US study from 2010 that estimated around 1,000 deaths a year in the US from phone-distracted driving. How many deaths do we think that were caused by mobile phone jammers? My guess is "none".

But it's interesting to note that this bloke, whilst being a bit of a berk (or a 'berger) is being pursued for $48k. What's the fine for driving whilst using a mobile, and how does that compare to the relative risk?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yo, Jason!

"Ah, excuse me. Cars have more than one seat. As in: passengers; not driving.

So. Think much?"

I think very well thanks, so well in fact that I have read studies on the subject of distraction in vehicles and a passenger having an unrelated, to the driver, conversation in the car also causes distraction for the driver, to the point that when tested most drivers, just with a passenger on the phone failed to pass basic driving assessments.

In my opinion ALL mobile phone use should be banned in cars and passengers should get in, sit down, belt up and shut up.

There's also no need to be so hostile, or is your argument so poor and full of holes that the only way to attempt to get your point across is to get all angry and shouty?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yo, Jason!

I use my mobile phone as a dashboard mounted SatNav.

My kids, sitting in the back of the car, headphones on, use their mobile phones as entertainment devices.

My wife sitting next to me, reading a novel on her Kindle App on her mobile phone.

I get to drive in delightful silence with the occasional gentle reminder from the SatNav about what turning I need to take next, allowing me to get into the correct lane in good time as to not inconvenience my fellow road users in areas I am unfamiliar with.

And yet an arbitrary blanket ban on all phones (irrespective of use) use within a car? Hmmm...

Most (smart) phones are rarely used as phones (in the traditional sense) - certainly in my family...

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Re: Yo, Jason!

Mobile phones are a fantastic convenience, and a genuinely useful piece of technology, but we did all manage to get along quite well not being in touch with the rest of the world whilst traveling before they were invented. It would hardly be the end of civilisation if they were to be banned in moving vehicles would it..?

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Re: Yo, Jason!

"Until your wife goes into labour in the car"

So you've got the distraction of the wife in labour in the car and you want to add to that by also talking on the phone??

Rather than increasing your risk of accident, I'm pretty sure you need to hand the phone over to your wife and drive her to the hospital.

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FAIL

Re: Manufacturers should put in software to detect when the phone is travelling faster than 10MPH

"never let the facts get in the way"... What facts? That was my point. These so-called studies also said that speaking to your spouse while driving was as bad as being drunk at the wheel. So are we mandating no talk radio in the car? Concentrating too hard on The Archers could easily cause a prang at Junction 7 on the M25, after all.

And no, I don't think my phone calls are so important that they cannot wait. I normally pull over to take calls unless on the motorway, and really - hitting a button on my ear and speaking to someone for a minute is worse than chatting to your pals on the back seat? Really?? And I *never* make a call while driving, bluetooth or not. I just spent a paragraph ranting at wankers who yak into phones propped against thair skulls while driving at 90mph, but I'm the wanker because I also point at the elephant in the room, namely poor research?

So thanks for the ad hominem attack, AC. You'll note that a) I didn't make one (referring to a group of obvious wankers as wankers ain't ad hominem) and b) I don't hide behind AC. Ever.

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Re: Manufacturers should put in software to detect when the phone is travelling faster than 10MPH

"The advice from the police is that your phone should be switched off and out of reach when driving"

These would be the same police who use hand held microphones for radios in their cars would it?

Unless they are now using hands-free microphones these days.

Once again people, you are all falling into the same old trap of blaming 'something'.

As been pointed out numerous times, it is distraction that is the problem not an individual device. The phone is irrelevant. It could just as easily be a sat nav, radio, or numerous other distractions, including looking at your passenger as you speak to them, stopping the kids fighting etc, etc.

The problem is purely yours as a driver. If you allow yourself to be distracted by anything, then the problem is totally yours, not anybody else, or any device.

From a safety point of view, it makes me laugh, in view of this conversation, about all the new technology been put into cars these days. I have just seen the latest advertisements claiming that they had a touch screen to control just about everything - which of course, having no knobs to even start to be able to control things by feel, you will have to look at to operate. Safe? I think not. And neither is voice activated technology, probably, when the damn thing refuses to recognises what you are saying as was demonstrated on Top Gear.

Here's a thought. Technology does NOT necessarily solve anything but can quite often exacerbate existing problems.

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But my first amendment right to free speech in 3..2..1

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Decision time?

There is a balance here, and perhaps society should make a collective decision.

One one hand there is the freedom of passengers in cars, trains, etc. to use their mobile phones without restriction. On the other we have the death, injury and associated personal and societal costs of accidents caused by drivers being distracted by mobile phones.

Automatically disabling the transmitters and receivers in mobile phones that are travelling more than, say 30 kph is trivially easy, and would without doubt save lives. The question is whether the convenience of passengers is more important than human life.

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Re: Decision time?

@Poopypants: except it would also disrupt the phones of any passengers in a car. I don't know about you, but my wife regularly calls other people when I am driving in order to (for example) let them know we have been delayed, or call a take-out place after work because neither one of us feels like cooking dinner, etc...

Unless you can somehow restrict the technology to drivers-only, it's not reasonable.

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Re: Decision time?

Disabling the radio in a phone moving over 30kph would prevent the phone from being used on the bus/train/etc. I imagine a large number of people would complain about that.

There has been some noise made by the US Transportation Department about technologies that could disable a phone only when it is located near the driver's seat of a vehicle. This is, in theory, a better idea (assuming the technologies actually exist and work) but could be easily circumvented as well - throw the phone on the passenger seat and use the speakerphone or a headset.

No easy answers...

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Re: Decision time?

@Neoc So it's not reasonable to inconvenience a lot of people to save the lives of a few? OK. I guess we should stop checking aircraft passengers for bombs, etc.

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Stop

Re: Decision time?

@poopypants: False equivalency. Fifteen-yard penalty for blatant logical fallacy.

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@poopypants

No, it is not.

If you think it is, I take it you'll sign a petition supporting a worldwide speed limit of 10 mph to insure that all automobile crashes are survivable?

Surely the lives saved by zero traffic deaths is worth the inconvenience of a 5 hour average commute in your hopelessly deluded mind.

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Re: Decision time?

Most states and indeed, most countries, already have a general law that states you will not be distracted while driving or the accident will be your fault.

Of course, most people don't know this and would think their right to be the center of the universe is being infringed if they did know it.

Much like backing up is not a right of way and nor is turning left.

*sigh*

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Re: @poopypants

False equivalency?

Sure, if in the sense that 10s of thousands of people die in auto accidents in the US alone more than aircraft accidents or terrorism.

Yeah, I can see how drivers should have more freedom... to kill.

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Re: Decision time?

"There has been some noise made by the US Transportation Department about technologies that could disable a phone only when it is located near the driver's seat of a vehicle."

Hi Honey!

Are you on the phone while driving?

Yes, I'm sitting in the back.

Who's driving?

No one at the moment, now about dinner tonight...

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Re: Decision time?

"The question is whether the convenience of (a billion) passengers is more important than (a few) human [lives]."

Yes. Sorry.

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Re: Decision time?

"Disabling the radio in a phone moving over 30kph would prevent the phone from being used on the bus/train/etc."

Perfect

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On a separate note...

If it's so illegal for Joe Public to use one, why are they allowing manufacturers to *sell* them to Joe Public in the first place?

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Re: On a separate note...

Its only a day or two since we had a story posted here about someone building a working mobile phone from components. If people can do that then building a jammer is also possible - there doesn't need to be anyone selling pre-built jammers.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: On a separate note...

If it's so illegal to murder people, why are soldiers issued with guns?

If illegal drugs are so illegal, why are the hospitals giving opiates to patients?

If it's illegal to drive on the sidewalk, why are pedestrians allowed to walk there?

Making one thing illegal in some situations by some people does not automatically mean that all related activities have to be made illegal. It would be stupid if it did.

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Re: On a separate note...

These things can be purchased direct from suppliers in China. If customs catches it they will throw it out and send you a nastygram, but it's hard to catch everything. On the other hand, I remember DealXtreme used to sell cell and GPS jammers but no longer seems to carry them - a search for "jammer" returns no results. This would imply that someone, somewhere, is indeed trying to get them off the market.

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Pint

Re: On a separate note...

"...building a jammer is also possible - there doesn't need to be anyone selling pre-built jammers."

Cell phones jammers are readily available from the many vendors of same to be found on the Interweb-thingy.

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Facepalm

Meanwhile...

Ray LaHood was proposing installing exactly the same kind of device on all cars. My argument against that back then seems to be the same reasoning behind this fine: blocking calls like that also blocks emergency calls, and that's a big no-no.

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Arrested? He deserves a reward

I don't know how many times I've seen goofballs yapping on their phones while driving. Or blabbing in a restaurant, theatre, etc. Go Jason.

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Facepalm

Re: Arrested? He deserves a reward

Well I'm sure they stopped talking on their phones, instead they would have been staring at their phone, wondering why it wasn't working, maybe prodding buttons/fondling screens.

As far as I can tell he just made the road MORE dangerous.

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Coat

Just wondering...

Was he using the jammer hands-free?

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Jebus

Its not complicated. Just enforce the laws you already have.

Fine drivers using phones without a handsfree kit. Fine them hard for talking on a mobile, much much harder for Texting & facebooking. Take their license away for a second offence.

Anyone stopped with a phone on the dash within reach without a bluetooth headset or other handsfree kit should be asked to place the phone in thier glove box or pocket.

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Re: Jebus

I'd go further than just a fine. Confiscate the phone on the spot.

When you'v been found not guilty in a court you get it back, otherwise it becomes landfill.

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entitlement perception

On my way to work today I had to point out that the light had turned green, but the women on her phone didn't seem to notice, and then she acted all butt hurt when I yelled get off the phone!

*I was a smug pedestrian at this point in my journey.

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Thumb Down

One of the big complications is the fact that so many phones are now 'look at me and hold with two hands' devices. I saved my 8 or 9 year old blue tooth equipped device as its ability to operate all day without being touched, ever, to make or receive calls via the blue tooth headset is essential, its tasks include, telling me to divert due to a medical emergency while travelling, calls while in the supermarket, calls while dog walking in the rain or with cold near numb hands, while using both hands for some other activity. An 'iMust-touch-me phone' or a 'goggle-me-stupid' phone is useless. Perhaps the current market is just not compatible with mobile PHONE use.

I keep getting told they are now mobile computers, which I am sure they are but sadly this makes them totally incompatible with a range of other uses.

The mobile service providers are as much use as a sick headache for helping customers obtain a device which may be of use to them. Their last effort has sat in a rack unused for about 18 months as it requires two hands and full eye contact to get it to do anything - It is not just useless, it is not just unloved, but hated.

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there was that girl in America that was taking selfie and updating her Facebook while driving... she veered across the road, hit a truck and died...

If she was behind this truck at the time... would it have saved her? Maybe... or maybe she would be more preoccupied with trying to figure out why she had no signal...

People shouldn't use phones in cars... sure as hell shouldn't use them hands on... I'm distracted enough going hands free and having voice control of the phone...

The driving mode on my Nokia has become a welcome glimpse of peace - phone tethers to the car and any incoming calls or texts are suppressed and an sms automatically sent saying I'm driving and to call back...

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On the one hand, I was planning to do this myself. How many times have I looked up at someone tailgating to see the top of his head as he was distracted with typing text messages at 60mph. No matter how good of a driver you think you are, you're not that good.

In front of me, I saw a distracted driver slam right into the guard rail from the left lane. There were parts flying off his truck. He must have received a phone call.

But on the other hand, people need to work this out for themselves. If we continue to make laws which govern every aspect of our lives we will never mature as a society.

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Anonymous Coward

The other issue with jammers

an idiot with either a jammer or high powered transmitter caused a lot of people to be locked out of their cars in Aldi car park in Cramlington a few weeks back in the rain.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The other issue with jammers

relatively easy to do (and it does not have to be high power, 10 milliwatts will do it)

any form of pulsed modulation on 433.92 mhz (or thereabouts) will mess up a lot of car keyfobs (not to mention wireless weather stations / thermometers / power meters etc etc)

parts list :

1 x arduino pro mini (3.3v)

1 x rfm22b transmitter board

2 x aa battery (alkaline will run for about 6 hours)

people involved in high altitude ballooning know this only too well because the trackers built and used operate at similar frequencies and it has become standard practice to unlock cars that will be needed before activating the balloon tracker because as long as the tracker is within about 100 feet you can't get in your car.

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The assumption that he could save lives is faulty

Mobile phones used while driving undoubtedly cause deaths indirectly by distracting people (and they are well documented to do so).

#1 How many lives are saved by mobile phones? did he disrupt someone driving to hospital? cut off someone calling emergency services by the side of the road during a heart attack?

#2 If someone is using a phone while driving and gets cut off by a jammer, are they more likely to be even more distracted (looking at their phone, attempting to redial etc.)

#3 If they attempt to use it but it's unusable will they spend more time, be more distracted attempting do dial or switching it off an on etc.

While I see what he was trying to do, the legal issues mean nothing to me, but I'm not convinced that it was actually constructive and it seems to me that it was potentially more destructive and dangerous, causing more distractions that he was preventing.

I'd fully support someone using a jammer in the cinema/library/museum/prison etc. - the random beeps and bright white texting is really annoying in the cinema (let alone actually taking a call), but I also think people should be made aware their phones won't work so it doesn't confuse them (and in case they have a critical call to take, in which case they can choose not to watch/disturb my film)

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Anonymous Coward

Can you jam jammers or could another jammer jam the jammer that you're using to jam the jammer?

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