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The Vox Box

Wed., Nov. 7, 2007, 10:30 a.m.

Tired of cell phone yappers? Are “jammers” the answer?

Kumaar Thakkar of India says he exports 20 jammers a month to the United States. His clients include a school bus driver./Prashanth Vishwanathan for The New York Times

Today from Poynter:

Cell phone lovers may see a rise in cell phone "jamming" as pocket-sized cell phone jammers are becoming more common.
Jammers are a subtle but illegal way to stop the users sitting around you from using their phone.

Click here to see how a jammer works. You can easily find a jammer that says it will silence cell phones within a 10-meter radius for less than $200.

According to the New York Times:

The buyers include owners of cafes and hair salons, hoteliers, public speakers, theater operators, bus drivers and, increasingly, commuters on public transportation.

“If anything characterizes the 21st century, it’s our inability to restrain ourselves for the benefit of other people,” said James Katz, director of the Center for Mobile Communication Studies at Rutgers University. “The cellphone talker thinks his rights go above that of people around him, and the jammer thinks his are the more important rights.”

Using the jammers is illegal in the United States. The radio frequencies used by cellphone carriers are protected, just like those used by television and radio broadcasters. explains:

Jamming is seen as property theft, because a private company has purchased the rights to the radio spectrum, and jamming the spectrum is akin to stealing the property the company has purchased. It also represents a safety hazard because jamming blocks all calls in the area, not just the annoying ones. Jamming a signal could block the call of a babysitter frantically trying to contact a parent or a someone trying to call for an ambulance.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Is Jamming theft? Would you use one, or is this just a bad idea?

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