Niagara Gazette

Columns

September 9, 2013

CONFER: Legalize cell phone jamming devices

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — Federal law excludes individuals, private enterprises and local and state governments from the act of interference (no matter how limited), yet permits the federal government to jam specific or many radio signals at will. So, it’s not like it is never or cannot be done; it’s done regularly and for various reasons.

What’s good for the goose should be good for the gander. There is no good reason — especially with the narrow bands within which cell phones operate — that schools, restaurants, and businesses should not be allowed to develop and install band-specific, very-low-power transmitters that would cover only a room or two at a time and prevent cellular signals from coming in or going out. This could be done with an elaborate licensing process that would require reasonable need by the applicant, engineering studies by the equipment provider/installer and review and approval by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). It would be no different than all that is involved with setting up any radio station (broadcast or two-way), except it would be at a much smaller scale.

What a wonderful world it would be if restaurateurs could maintain civility in their dining rooms, teachers could teach attentive students, and workers could commit themselves to the task at hand.

Is this even a possibility? Not right now. FCC documents cite the far-fetched threat that it poses to public safety, specifically the inability of folks to call 911, despite every one of those facilities having landlines and mankind having done pretty well before cell phones became ubiquitous in the past 15 years.

But, this can change. Public policy adjusts itself to the mood of the public. As time goes on, angry teachers, concerned business owners, and properly-behaved citizens could create a big enough stink that they could control the airwaves — and decency — at the micro level.

Gasport resident Bob Confer also writes for the New American magazine at TheNewAmerican.com. Follow him on Twitter @bobconfer

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