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Cellphones Crime The Almighty Buck

FCC Proposes $48,000 Fine To Man Jamming Cellphones On Florida Interstate 427

Posted by Soulskill
from the can-you-hear-me-now dept.
New submitter freddieb writes: "An individual who had been jamming cellphone traffic on interstate 4 in Florida was located by FCC agents with the assistance of Hillsborough County Sheriff's Deputies. The individual had reportedly been jamming cellphone traffic on I-4 for two years. The FCC is now proposing a $48,000 fine for his actions. They say the jamming 'could and may have had disastrous consequences by precluding the use of cell phones to reach life-saving 9-1-1 services provided by police, ambulance, and fire departments.'"
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FCC Proposes $48,000 Fine To Man Jamming Cellphones On Florida Interstate

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 29, 2014 @02:53PM (#46871389)

    It's just disgusting how many people use their cell phones while driving.

    • by Drethon (1445051) on Tuesday April 29, 2014 @03:01PM (#46871477)
      More likely killed more people who were looking down at their cell phone "Why isn't this damn thing working!".
    • by Ralph Wiggam (22354) on Tuesday April 29, 2014 @03:03PM (#46871501) Homepage

      What's the difference between talking on a cell phone and talking to a passenger? Texting while driving is already illegal in Florida.

      This one guy doesn't get to decide public safety issues.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 29, 2014 @03:08PM (#46871561)

        It is Distracted Driving Awareness Month.. From http://www.nsc.org/safety_road/Distracted_Driving/Pages/Hands-free-is-not-risk-free.aspx

        Isn't it just as distracting to talk to passengers?

          - A passenger is able to spot and point out driving hazards
          - A passenger is another set of eyes
          - A passenger is able to recognize when traffic is challenging and stop talking.

      • by AK Marc (707885) on Tuesday April 29, 2014 @03:09PM (#46871573)
        The passengers will help look around for traffic. Also, you can "ignore" passengers in person more politely than someone over the phone. The phone is a reduced communication medium. The quality is worse, so tone can be distorted, and you get no visual cues of the person to help you understand, so you focus more on the phone than a person sitting next to you to get the same level of understanding. The quality of conversation is different as well. You can "tune out" the people in the car more easily, your wife is asking about dinner, the kids are asking to go to the new movie. But the phone call is your boss or customer, and you need to get that information 100% correct.

        There's a long list of reasons that a phone call is different from a passenger. That you can't think of any indicates a problem with you, not those who are seeking a ban to phones, but not passengers.
        • So it should be illegal to have your boss or customer ride in your car?

          • by bws111 (1216812)

            Should it be illegal to conduct business while you are driving? Yes.

            • LOL

              Good luck writing that law.

            • by ArcadeMan (2766669) on Tuesday April 29, 2014 @03:54PM (#46872219)

              Won't somebody think of the taxi drivers!

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        There's a much larger difference.

        You don't need to hold a device to ear to converse with the passenger.
        You don't need to take your eyes off of the road to call the passenger.
        The passenger doesn't display text and images in front of you. (If they do sedate them before letting them in your car next time)
        The passenger doesn't vibrate in your lap startling you. (Unless they're a good passenger, but then again that shouldn't be startling)

        If you don't have a hands free setup, which a lot of people don't, and if t

      • by jklovanc (1603149) on Tuesday April 29, 2014 @03:24PM (#46871781)

        What's the difference between talking on a cell phone and talking to a passenger?

        According to Harvard [harvard.edu] it is quite different.

      • the two are entirely different. you don't shout and concentrate as much with a real person there vs the phone. the phone will cut in and out and distract you; people won't. and finally, the passenger will see that an 'issue' is coming up and probably be quite (or tell you there is a problem ahead). the cell phone will have no idea what your environment is like and they'll continue on blathering while you rear-end the guy who stopped short, in front of you.

        I generally won't even answer my phone if I'm dr

      • I would agree. Also statistically, driving with a passanger and talking to them is about as dangerous as talking on the cellphone while driving. So since that isn't practical to ban... the cell phone issue is more of an older generation whining about the next new thing.

        I'm sorry if that offends but it is accurate.

    • It's just disgusting how many people use their cell phones while driving.

      It is quite vexing; but I suspect that 'people looking down in surprise when their signal suddenly cuts out' are even less useful for driving than are people chattering like idiots.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 29, 2014 @04:03PM (#46872329)

      In the article it states that the Sheriffs lost contact with dispatch too as they neared the car. So ignore his supposed noble effort to stop cell use while driving, he was actually endangering lives by blocking communications for first responders.

      • by X0563511 (793323) on Tuesday April 29, 2014 @04:38PM (#46872735) Homepage Journal

        Sheriffs around here (FL) use the 800mhz public safety allocation (digital trunking /w encryption in their case - which requires a good signal to function), and a cell jammer would need to smash that range as well because some networks use frequencies around 800mhz or 850mhz.

        This highlights why jammers are such a bad thing. The spectrum is crowded, and what might be perceived as useless by someone with a jammer might be neighbored by something important.

  • Sounds fair to me (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dreamchaser (49529)

    The dude should certainly be punished, and a punitive fine like that sounds fairly reasonable to me. No sense clogging up the jails even further over what amounts to vandalism of a sort.

  • The obvious question to ask was why someone would do such a thing.

    Now, if it was a movie theater, I could see someone jamming cell phones. But on a road? Why?

    Was he using an over-powered machine and doing it by mistake? Was he just insane?

    • by Missing.Matter (1845576) on Tuesday April 29, 2014 @03:13PM (#46871611)
      It's quite an obvious question isn't it? So obvious that it's already been asked and answered in TFA:

      Mr. Humphreys admitted that he owned and had operated a cell phone jammer from his car for the past 16 to 24 months. An inspection of the vehicle revealed the cell phone jammer behind the seat cover of the passenger seat. Mr. Humphreys stated that he had been operating the jammer to keep people from talking on their cell phones while driving.

      • "he's the hero you need, even if he's not the hero you deserve."

        or something like that.

      • by gurps_npc (621217)
        Actually no it was not answered in the original TFA. They updated it. People have a tendency to do that when they do a poor job on the internet.
    • The obvious question to ask was why someone would do such a thing.

      Now, if it was a movie theater, I could see someone jamming cell phones. But on a road? Why?

      Was he using an over-powered machine and doing it by mistake? Was he just insane?

      Plenty of APKs out there. This guy just kicked it up a notch (and went IRL). Worse than an internet spammer crank, not nearly as bad as the Unabomber, but somewhere in the middle of the nuisance/danger spectrum

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Tailhook (98486)

      obvious question — why

      For people that actually drive and must cope with vehicles that effectively have no driver because cell-phone there is nothing compelling about your question; the answer is self-evident.

  • The Slashdot Beta (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 29, 2014 @03:06PM (#46871537)

    The Slashdot Beta is already having disastrous consequences on this website. The beta site just crashed my browser, and while there currently is an option to proceed to the old version (which I managed to click, just in time, after restarting my browser), I'm sure that even this option will soon disappear.

    I'm not an old timer ranting just for the heck of it, (Disclaimer: I've just been on this website for close to 6 years now, five of those were during my engineering degree. Note that 6 years is a very short period of time, compared to some of the commenters who frequent this website, they've been here for much longer, though the way things are going, I doubt that they're going to stick around). The beta is truly unusable, is just a blatant advertisement for tech jobs by the new owners of this website, and destroys the comment system entirely.

    I don't come here to read "News for Nerds", because the submissions made these days are just a blatant waste of time. What I do come here for are the comments. There is an absolute wealth of experience among the users on this website, from system admins to web developers to people with all sorts of careers, and from all sorts of backgrounds, not just technology. I come here to read their comments. This is also one of the greatest places to find absolute gems of wit (+5 Funny, I'm looking at you). I attempted to use the Beta to this purpose, but it failed miserably.

    TL:DR; I come here for the comments, I won't be coming here any more if the beta becomes the default. Yes, this is a rant. Yes, this is offtopic. Yes, this will be modded as such. But I just needed to say that. Thanks.

    • Re:The Slashdot Beta (Score:4, Informative)

      by meta-monkey (321000) on Tuesday April 29, 2014 @03:20PM (#46871721) Journal

      http://soylentnews.com/ [soylentnews.com]

  • If the government had actually dealt with known issues regarding driving and cell phone use, his vigilantism would not have been necessary. I know I have thought about doing the same thing myself. And I wonder how many politicians receive contributions from the cell phone companies.

    Still... he committed a crime and should be punished. Civil disobedience requires a willingness to accept the punishment to help solve the problem.

    • by amiga3D (567632) on Tuesday April 29, 2014 @03:18PM (#46871691)

      His vigilantism wasn't necessary. He accomplished nothing at all with his nonsense than to possibly create a public hazard. What about car passengers? Are they "allowed" to use the phone? How many drivers do you suppose tried redialing again and again? He solved nothing at all. What arrogance.

  • by lecithin (745575) on Tuesday April 29, 2014 @03:07PM (#46871543)

    I hate when people talk, text and drive. You jam somebody, they are going to take the phone from their head and try to call again, or at least figure out what is going on. This is probably more distracting than just talking to somebody.

  • by Ukab the Great (87152) on Tuesday April 29, 2014 @03:19PM (#46871705)

    Why can't he just shoot at road signs like most normal people?

  • That seems fair (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Tuesday April 29, 2014 @03:20PM (#46871715) Homepage

    Particularly since the FCC levied a similar fine against BART in August of 2011...

    Oh, wait. They didn't do anything at all then. But they're coming down like Thor's hammer on Florida Man.

    How does that saying go? "You're everything we've come to expect from years of government training".

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Except with BART, they didn't interfere with the signal, they shut off the amplifier that they controlled. A BIG difference. A fine is an expected outcome for illegally interfering with airwaves.

  • by jakedata (585566) on Tuesday April 29, 2014 @03:20PM (#46871725)

    Imagine he was in an accident and rendered unconscious with his car still powering the jamming device. Assume it was a single car accident, no need to be cruel to others. Anyhow, nobody can call for help and nobody thinks to switch off the ignition in his vehicle which is clearly not running. If it jammed first responders communication equipment too, all the better. He could enjoy a nice long wait for an ambulance.

    • by viperidaenz (2515578) on Tuesday April 29, 2014 @03:35PM (#46871929)

      It did jam emergency communication equipment too

      The Hillsborough Sheriff deputies reported that communications with police dispatch over their 800 MHz two-way portable radios were interrupted as they approached the SUV
      ...
      On June 14, 2013, agents from the Tampa Office tested the seized cell phone jammer and confirmed that it was capable of jamming cellular and PCS communications in at least three frequency bands: 821-968 MHz, 1800-2006 MHz, and 2091-2180 MHz.
      ...
      Public safety radio systems (such as those used by police, firefighters, and emergency medical technicians) operate in several portions of the 800 MHz band, which consists of spectrum at 806-824 MHz paired with spectrum at 851-869 MHz.

      http://www.fcc.gov/document/48... [fcc.gov]

  • On the flip side of the coin, jamming cellphone signals would eliminate some texting and driving so presumably it could have also saved some lives.
  • its the driving thats the problem.

    So Until they get fully automated cars, the states should require that all cars and trucks have a 'crew' of 2.
    I to drive
    the other to navigate and communicate

    The second person would not have to be a licensed driver, nor an adult (but there would be a minimum age)

  • by thevirtualcat (1071504) on Tuesday April 29, 2014 @04:16PM (#46872487)

    Most jammers work by blasting noise on whatever channels you are trying to block.

    Perfect band pass filters are not a thing the exist, especially not for transmitters. Especially not for transmitters cobbled together by some guy on the cheap. The assumption that they do is why they (rightfully) smacked down LightSquared.

    So, let's do a little exercise:

    First, look at the 800 MHz Band Plan
    http://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedi... [fcc.gov]

    See that slot right below "Cellular?" You know, that cut-away that has all the "Public Safety" allocations? Now, let's look at a quote from the FCC posting:
    "According to deputies from the Sheriff’s Office, communications with police dispatch were interrupted as they approached Mr. Humphreys’ vehicle."

    The jammer was blocking police radio. Not just cell phones. He was actively interfering with public safety communications. NON-CELLULAR public safety communications.

    Personally? $48,000 is getting off easy. I'd add another order of magnitude onto it.

Nature always sides with the hidden flaw.

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