The Federal Communications Commission has proposed fining a man $48,000 for using a device that jams authorized communications such as cellphone calls, Wi-Fi networks and emergency communications.
Jason Humphreys of Seffner, Fla., admitted he operated a jammer in his Toyota Highlander sports utility vehicle for between 16 and 24 months so drivers wouldn’t talk on their mobile phones, according to an FCC document released Tuesday.
The use of jammers is against federal law other than in extremely limited circumstances, the agency said.
A year ago, MetroPCS tipped off the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau that its cellphone towers were being interfered with during morning and evening commutes in Tampa, Fla. The Commission later determined the likely source of the interference was along Interstate 4 between downtown Tampa and Seffner, Fla.
Humphreys’ use of the jammer “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," the FCC stated in an April 29, 2014, document. “It also could have disrupted critical communications of first responders driving on the highway near Mr. Humphreys’ vehicle."
The FCC ordered that Humphreys either pay a fine of $48,000 or file a written statement seeking reduction or cancellation of the proposed penalty.
The FCC warned the consequences of using jam devices are potentially dire.
“While these devices have been marketed and sold with increasing frequency over the Internet, their use by U.S. consumers is illegal under any circumstances. Unlawful use of signal jammers could result not only in substantial monetary fines, but also imprisonment," the agency stated in a press release.