The FCC’s enforcement efforts this month focused heavily on the marketing and sale of illegal signal jamming devices. The advertising, sale, or operation of devices which jam GPS, cell phone, or other wireless communications is prohibited under Section 301 of the Communications Act as well as under the FCC’s Rules. As the Commission has previously noted, it is unlawful to use a jammer, even on private property. In the span of a week this October, the FCC issued eight “Citation and Order” actions against companies and individuals it determined were unlawfully advertising jammers for sale on Craigslist.org.
In those orders, the FCC emphasized that it views unlawful operation of jammers as a public safety hazard. In several of the orders, the Enforcement Bureau wrote that it is “increasingly concerned that individual consumers who operate jamming devices do not appear to understand the potentially grave consequences of using a jammer. Instead these operators incorrectly assume that their illegal operation is justified by personal convenience or should otherwise be excused.” Because of this, the FCC cautioned that going forward, it “intend[s] to impose substantial monetary penalties, rather than (or in addition to) warnings, on individuals who operate a jammer.” The FCC added that “substantial monetary penalties” in these cases would mean up to $16,000 per violation, or, in the case of a single continuing violation, $16,000 per day up to a total of $112,500.
The Enforcement Bureau indicated that the FCC will continue to target individuals and companies involved in the illegal advertisement, sale, or operation of jammers. In fact, on October 15th, the Bureau launched a dedicated jammer tip line – 1-855-55-NOJAM – to make it easier for members of the public to report the use or sale of illegal jammers. It also released an Enforcement Advisory explaining the FCC’s “zero tolerance” policy regarding the unlawful sale and operation of jammers. Based on these recent actions by the FCC, we expect to see a growing number of signal jamming fines in the months ahead.