back to article US spanks phone-jamming vendor with $34.9 MEEELLION fine

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued a $34.9 million fine against a Chinese firm it says is selling illegal phone-jamming equipment to US consumers. The FCC said that it is seeking the penalties against Shenzen-based C.T.S. Technology, and has issued a cease-and-desist order halting sales in the US and …

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  1. Herby Silver badge

    Now...

    If they could get ALL the devices that violate FCC Part 15 it would be even better. Plasma TV's are among the WORST.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Now...

      "has issued a $34.9 million fine against a Chinese firm"

      Who will simply laugh and ignore them. I can't imagine that US fines are enforceable in China. Even If they have a US company outpost that is the target, presumably they can just shut it and open a new one.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Now...

      If they charge the same $122K per violation, just think of the revenue...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Now...

      FCC Part 15 also states that devices must be able to accept interference that causes undesirable operation. Which means the government reserves right to jam anything and everything that falls under that rule. In other words nothing in the US can be made jam proof.

  2. DerekCurrie Bronze badge
    Unhappy

    China: Figures

    Wouldn't it be wonderful if China actually created, invented, innovated something useful and important to provide and sell to the world? Instead, we get this criminal craptatiousness. Thank communism and its consequences.

    1. dan1980

      Re: China: Figures

      Communism responsible for phone jammers. Awesome.

      But no, that's just plain wrong. It has nothing to do with communism; quite the opposite. It is a relentless drive for profit and sales that sees these companies selling such products to countries that forbid them. It is an example of rampant profit-seeking behaviour; also known as capitalism,

      1. Don Jefe

        Re: China: Figures

        Yep. This is 100% capitalism in full force. Nothing to do with Communism.

        Besides, you can ascertain with 100% accuracy that this isn't a Commie plot. If it were then there would only be 13-14 jamming devices and everybody would have to share them.

      2. treboR

        Re: China: Figures

        Supplying a product that people want, at a price they're prepared to pay is definitely capitalism. If it was communism at work they'd have a whole factory devoted to making lime-green left hand shoes and another factory 700 miles away turning out bright red right hand shoes, for hundreds of times the going market rate. And they'd be the only shoes you could buy. And they'd be way behind on production so there would be a waiting list.

        But hey, they'd have 100% employment so that's something, right?

        1. dan1980

          Re: China: Figures

          In fact, this company is a pinnacle of the free market the way many in the US view it - capitalism without all those stifling 'regulations'.

        2. Psyx

          Re: China: Figures

          "If it was communism at work they'd have a whole factory devoted to making lime-green left hand shoes and another factory 700 miles away turning out bright red right hand shoes, for hundreds of times the going market rate. "

          That's bad management, not Communism. There is no practical reason why Communist nations should be any more disorganised than non-Communist ones. It's just that the track record to date has been poor in places.

          "But hey, they'd have 100% employment so that's something, right?"

          Yes, it is.

          1. DropBear Silver badge
            Trollface

            Re: China: Figures

            I think it would be good if cinemas were forced to install these jammers and turn them on during screenings...

            Absolutely, and we could mandate the hall be lined with a fully shielding Faraday-cage, so the jammer's signal would not get out to bother anybody else. ...oh wait...

          2. JimC Silver badge

            Re: > just that the track record to date has been poor in places.

            That ought to be a gloriously understated ironic comment, but I have a terrible feeling he's *not* got his tongue in his cheek...

            Hey anon, you're not the bloke who, when I was tin shaking for a charity back in my student days, gave me a five minute lecture on how we should be demonstrating outside the houses of parliament instead are you?

          3. Tom 35 Silver badge

            Re: China: Figures

            And from what I've seen of the football going on now, they would be the peak of current style too!

    2. Tom 35 Silver badge

      Re: China: Figures

      China is not communist, has not been for a long time if it ever was. Texas is more communist then China.

      1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
        Pint

        "Texas is more communist then China."

        That statement is simply incorrect; it's spelled 'than'.

    3. big_D Silver badge

      Re: China: Figures

      Ban them? I don't know. I think it would be good if cinemas were forced to install these jammers and turn them on during screenings...

      1. Vectrexer

        Re: China: Figures

        Better still for cinemas to build Faraday cages for passive jamming. Who know what bands will be opened up in the future for mobile services.

    4. Psyx

      Re: China: Figures

      " Thank communism and its consequences."

      Plain stupid, plain wrong.

      Number of phone jammers sold to US by hard-line, Communist China: 0

      Number of phone jammers sold to US by capitalist, moderate, consumerism China: Lots.

      China didn't used to flood the market with crap in efforts to make money prior to turning all capitalist. If you want to cry and whine, then it's the opposite culprit to the one you claim it to be: Capitalism, not Communism.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: China: Figures

      "Wouldn't it be wonderful if China actually created, invented, innovated something useful and important to provide and sell to the world?"

      China invented most of the things we use today. Paper, Printing, Gunpowder, the Compass, Alcohol, the Bell, Paper Money, The Blast Furace. They were the first to use natural gas as a fuel as well as many MANY other inventions we take for granted today.

      Arguably without the Chinese inventions that the western world copied, reproduced and sold without license or compensation to the Chinese we would not be in the position to make what we can today.

      1. dan1980

        Re: China: Figures

        @AC

        They were also the first to synthesise a protein when they synthesised insulin from cows, thus not only providing immediate benefits to diabetes reseach* but also also helping to progress a whole industry.

        * - the amino acids in insulin are near-identical in many different animals and so cow insulin can be used by human diabetics.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: China: Figures

        Its not like Europe and Africa didn't already have methods of smelting iron (bloomer), and things to write on (papyrus) though.

        And was the blast furnace actually copied from the Chinese, or independently evolved?

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: China: Figures

        "China invented most of the things we use today. Paper, Printing, Gunpowder, the Compass, Alcohol, the Bell, Paper Money, The Blast Furace. "

        OK, so what have they invented in the past thousand years?

        1. Aitor 1

          Re: China: Figures

          They didn't invent alcohol.... just saying.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "...what have they invented in the past thousand years?"

          An entire manufacturing base and supply system that can deliver consumer products significantly cheaper than anyone else.

          A society of 1.3B that is industrializing and modernizing quickly, rapidly becoming as wealthy and healthy as any western nation.

          Not all roses and sunshine of course...

      4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: China: Figures

        "without the Chinese inventions that the western world copied, reproduced and sold without license or compensation"

        To be fair, the patents had expired.

    6. razorfishsl

      Re: China: Figures

      Have you not heard of Chinese medicine and acupuncture?

      Just because one stupid Chinese company wants to do this , is not reason to blame everyone else,but chances are, it will be a couple of kids running an illegal company.

    7. DerekCurrie Bronze badge

      Re: China: Figures

      Massive thumbs down. I've seen that before, when I helped unmask the activities of The Red Hacker Alliance in 2007. And yet I was right. And I am right now as well. Slapping up the truth doesn't change a thing except the perceptions of ignorant people. Enjoy your ignorance. It's a very common problem around here. :-D

  3. John Tserkezis

    "The FCC said that the fines are primarily a public safety measure, as users whose phones are jammed would be unable to contact emergency services if needed."

    Of course. We don't want to lose out on those fecking loud generation Y'ers yackking endlessly on public transport, nor those simply can't wait ten fucking minutes to get to their destination but instead have to yabber about in their cars. And most of all, we wouldn't want the NSA to miss out on phone calls either.

    Shocking, just shocking.

    1. Peshman

      I hope that downvote was a slip of the mouse and not a real downvote. If it was real does the person who downvoted want to explain what was so unreasonable about the original post? This stinks of NSA interference. Do you honestly believe that emergency services couldn't use a non public bandwidth? If these jammers interfered with those then fair enough, they should be illegal.

      1. Fred Flintstone Gold badge

        This stinks of NSA interference. Do you honestly believe that emergency services couldn't use a non public bandwidth?

        Don't forget that the public still has a need to contact emergency services through regular channels. Which a jammer, well, jams..

        1. Peshman

          So surely all that is needed is a phone that communicates on dual frequencies isn't it? Most phones are quad band now so it wouldn't be like reinventing the wheel to have one band exclusively for emergency service use and the other for general use.

          1. Peshman

            A downvote for providing a simple solution to a simple problem?

            Looks like I've got my own NSA troll.

            1. The last doughnut

              I am guessing you got a downvote because of what you said.

          2. dan1980

            @Peshman

            The other thing to consider is that the spectrum is actually a public resource leased to providers.

            1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
              Pint

              "...spectrum is ... leased to providers."

              Really? The vocabulary of spectrum SALES never mentioned lease, and never mentioned any period of time e.g. ten years.

              Are you sure that these were leases, as opposed to sales?

              I hope you're right. It would make me happy.

          3. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
            Pint

            "...Most phones are quad band now..."

            Coincidentally, so are many phone jammers. Some even have four antennas, one for each band.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What we need

    Is a device which if people persist in using their phones despite multiple popup warnings causes them (thanks to manufacturer installed firmware) to disable SMS , calls and Internet until plugged into the mains for charging.

    Can't be that hard, most phones do this already when the battery is low and it could be enforced with signs saying "If you use your phone in this area it might not work again, be warned". Simplez.

    Also this wouldn't be a phone jammer as the phone could still make emergency calls but it would cripple it for "normal" use as a way to punish eejits who insist on being muppets.

    1. Christoph Silver badge

      Re: What we need

      Unfortunately it's not just 'official' emergency calls that people might need to make or receive.

      There's plenty of things that are emergencies for individuals but are nothing to do with the official emergency services.

      Just as an example, would you want to stop someone receiving the message "We have found a compatible donor. Come in for surgery NOW" ?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What we need

      That device exists - it is called femtocell.

      You can make nearly every femtocell into a super-efficient, selective (down to a specific phone) jammer/interceptor. All you need is the suitable controller portion (you do not even need femtocell firmware).

      Compared to a legacy wideband jammer it is much more difficult to pick up. Even a signal analyzer will not be sufficient - you need locator gear that talks the GSM protocols. The power in use can be so small that it is impossible to pick up from outside the building.

      You can use that on anything up to 3G inclusive as these rely on the network not being compromised. LTE improves on that slightly by doing 2 way authentication (the mobile authenticating the network as well as the network authenticating the mobile), but even that can be subverted.

    3. Tom 13

      Re: What we need

      I'm not against SMS or internet per se on the phones, it's the loud yapping I sometimes want blocked. You know the ones, yelling into their bluetooth sets so the person on the other end can hear them better. Granted I would sometimes like the delivery sounds turned off, but if you can disable the calls, you should be able to reset the volume control too.

    4. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: What we need

      "... until plugged into the mains for charging."

      As long as nobody invents a portable battery pack, perhaps based on a lithium ion recharable cell along with circuitry to manage the recharging and provide the 5vdc output along with some nice status LEDs, that would be indistinguishable from "mains charger" to the phone's power input circuit. As long as that doesn't happen, then your invention will work.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  5. channel extended

    Blocker wanted.

    This blocker is really a NSA blocker, The NSA complained to the FCC and now they want to stop them because they can't track us.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Signal jammers present a direct danger to public safety"

    "Public safety"? Translate: "it impedes the operation of our eavesdropping equipment".

  7. Tom 7 Silver badge

    In the US you dont need a jammer

    you've got a gun!

  8. John Savard Silver badge

    Safety Cuts Both Ways

    Unfortunately, prisons aren't allowed to jam cell phones. And this led to a crime kingpin in prison being able to arrange the murder of a police informant from his cell. So these restrictions need to be rethought.

    1. Psyx

      Re: Safety Cuts Both Ways

      On the other hand, cellphones themselves aren't allowed in prisons.

      That they're common as stripy shirts is indicative of a failure in the prison services, rather than a cue to up the regulation. Being too inept to prevent the ingress of drugs and phones should not be seen as a free pass to get the proverbial big guns out.

      "We're shit, we want more power to compensate" is a poor path to stride down.

      For example: If the clear-up rate on violent crime goes down to 10%, should the police be allowed to interdict our communications willy-nilly? How about if our military can't achieve an objective due to ineptitude: Should we then give them some tactical nuclear weapons?

      That said, I'm arguing against myself here: I do support phone jamming in prisons. But not if it means less effort being put into physical searches.

      1. DropBear Silver badge

        Re: Safety Cuts Both Ways

        That said, I'm arguing against myself here: I do support phone jamming in prisons. But not if it means less effort being put into physical searches.

        That's all well but there's that old thing "quis custodiet ipsos custodes" - this time, literally.

        1. 4ecks
          Coat

          Re: "quis custodiet ipsos custodes"

          Since the days of Genesis, why does it always seem to be me looking at you,

          you looking at me. Its' always the same, it's just a shame, that's all.

          1. earl grey Silver badge
            Thumb Up

            Re: "quis custodiet ipsos custodes"

            Well played. Have an upvote,

    2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Safety Cuts Both Ways

      And this led to a crime kingpin in prison being able to arrange the murder of a police informant from his cell

      Which never happened before the introduction of mobile phones, eh?

      And it's just slightly possible that corrections employees might have the occasional desire or need to use mobile phones, too.

      I'm not saying that mobile phone use by prisoners isn't a problem; but as usual, simplistic solutions are unlikely to help.

  9. Neil B

    You're actually *complaining* that RF signal jammers are illegal? Who the hell are you people?

    1. MD Rackham

      People who are tired of the anti-social use of that RF bandwidth?

      Jammers are a bit of a blunt instrument, though. Being from the States, I'm required to favor being able to legally shoot people using their phones in an annoying fashion. Better?

  10. bigtimehustler

    And the likelihood of them paying the said fine....0%! If they are a Chinese company what exactly are they going to do to collect this money and in fact stop them selling the product to US customers on the internet?

  11. Tuesday Is Soylent Green Day

    They should just add this clause to the users manual...

    "For entertainment purposes only" - that would surely get it passed by the FCC.

  12. I Am Spartacus

    You can buy a phone jammer?

    Who knew. I want one. If only to stop a colleagues very load personal mobile going off and his constant jabbering in ear burning loud Italian.

  13. JimmyPage Silver badge
    Stop

    41 comments, and no one has picked up ...

    The FCC said that it is seeking the penalties against Shenzen-based C.T.S. Technology, and has issued a cease-and-desist order halting sales in the US and demanded a list of individuals who purchased phone jammers from the company.

    Be curious to know about the law about this. In particular if the named individual either denies being that person, or no longer has the device (sold it on, binned it).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 41 comments, and no one has picked up ...

      I think we may have bought one. A long time ago, and at the specific request of a (foreign) client. I think we gave it to them at the end of the project. IIRC, it jammed 800MHz GSM quite well and had almost no effect on CDMA. I think it cost around $300.

      I opened it up and found a couple of poorly built VCOs sweeping across the band or some such. Pretty much what you would expect from a Chinese cell phone jammer and about as effective. Given some time and money I probably could have built a better one, but it would have been tough to jam CDMA.

      It was powered on for a total of about 10 minutes in our lab. We convinced the client to go with a screen room instead.

  14. Scroticus Canis
    Big Brother

    So when POTUS goes for a drive they don't use jammers?

    Only the privileged few get jammer protection from remote detonated devices in the US.

    They didn't seem so picky about using them in Iraq or Afghanistan, did they prosecute any of their forces or contract killers contractors over there or were they using FCC approved ones?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So when POTUS goes for a drive they don't use jammers?

      You haven't got this "one law for them and another for us" thing yet have you...

      It's called feudalism. Know your place serf!

  15. JaitcH
    FAIL

    Given the USA is indebted to China to the tune of billions, ...

    they should deduct the fine from the amount owed and ask t5he Chinese to collect.

    But don't hold your breath.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Interesting

    Phone jammers as an anti-IED device.

    I have reason to believe that there are methods of blocking phones used in this way, one reason why a lot of older phones get destroyed instead of reused is to prevent their recycling in this way.

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