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Chinese Vendor Could Pay $34.9M FCC Fine In Signal-Jammer Sting

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the jam-cracker dept.

United States 188

alphadogg writes A Chinese electronics vendor accused of selling signal jammers to U.S. consumers could end up leading the market in one dubious measure: the largest fine ever imposed by the Federal Communications Commission. The agency wants to fine CTS Technology $34,912,500 for allegedly marketing 285 models of jammers over more than two years. CTS boldly—and falsely—claimed that some of its jammers were approved by the FCC, according to the agency's enforcement action released Thursday. Conveniently, CTS' product detail pages also include a button to "report suspicious activity." The proposed fine, which would be bigger than any the FCC has levied for anti-competitive behavior, or a wardrobe malfunction, comes from adding up the maximum fines for each model of jammer the company allegedly sold in the U.S. The agency also ordered CTS, based in Shenzhen, China, to stop marketing illegal jammers to U.S. consumers and identify the buyer of each jammer it sold in the U.S.

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So how is that going to work (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47277149)

The FCC doesn't have jurisdiction in China. Unless the company has assets and/or a legal presence in America, they will laugh and give the FCC the middle finger.

Re:So how is that going to work (0)

nurb432 (527695) | about 5 months ago | (#47277183)

As they should.

Besides that, if i want a jammer i should be able to get one.

Re:So how is that going to work (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47277213)

Sorry, but no you can't. Devices that transmit are regulated by the FCC. You don't have authorization to operate radio equipment in those bands, thus, no you should not be able to get one.

Re:So how is that going to work (-1, Flamebait)

nurb432 (527695) | about 5 months ago | (#47277363)

If i want it, i will get it. Do you think i care about authorization?

Re:So how is that going to work (3, Insightful)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 5 months ago | (#47277473)

Go for it. Don't complain when you get fined by the FCC.

Re:So how is that going to work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47277519)

Go for it. Don't complain when you get fined by the FCC.

Or just outright arrested.

Re:So how is that going to work (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 5 months ago | (#47277555)

Like this guy [nbcnews.com]

Re:So how is that going to work (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 5 months ago | (#47277889)

Ok, I just bought a Signal Jammer and I have it in my trembling fingers. Um, what's the point of buying it? What if I need to make a phone call? What if a Tornado is approaching my trailer park? What if 60 Minutes is outside my fortified compound? Before I even turn it on, its not working! Maybe I can exchange it for some really good looking rolex watches?

Re:So how is that going to work (-1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 5 months ago | (#47277785)

You have to get caught first. ( and i really have no intention on doing it, but if i did, some stupid 3 letter agency wouldn't stop me )

Re:So how is that going to work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47277993)

Wiki:

In trigonometry and geometry, triangulation is the process of determining the location of a point by measuring angles to it from known points at either end of a fixed baseline, rather than measuring distances to the point directly (trilateration). The point can then be fixed as the third point of a triangle with one known side and two known angles.

It's not going to be hard for them to find you at all.

Re:So how is that going to work (2)

rubycodez (864176) | about 5 months ago | (#47278295)

think harder.

it MAY be easy for them to find the jammer. if the person who plants one has any brains, it will be hard to impossible to find who owns it.

with some truly creative use of coax and multiple antennae, it is also possible to make it impossible to even find the source of the signal with triangulation

Re:So how is that going to work (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 5 months ago | (#47278307)

If i want it, i will get it. Do you think i care about authorization?

You do realize that this...er...'argument' can also be used by nation states, with a few modest differences in how much force they can put to the task of getting it?

Re:So how is that going to work (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47277569)

They should be able to make jammers and I should be able to purchase and own jammers. It is only against the law to use it in certain ways and in certain places. This is international anyway. Maybe these devices are OK in other countries, just not in USA. They should not be able to fine this company or get the names of purchasers. They should only prosecute the act of jamming in a non approved manner. Just like laser pointers.

Re:So how is that going to work (1, Insightful)

ADRA (37398) | about 5 months ago | (#47277239)

If I wanted to block all telephone signals, I should have the right to. If I block emergency radio signals, I should have the right to. If I block all wireless communication signals on the planet, I should have the right to. Wahh wahh wahh. Oh my god, do you troglodytes live in a fucking bubble or what.

Re:So how is that going to work (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 5 months ago | (#47277393)

Did i say the entire planet? No.

Re:So how is that going to work (2)

amicusNYCL (1538833) | about 5 months ago | (#47277441)

What size of an area should you have the right to block all signals? Why should you not have the right to block all signals in a larger area?

Re:So how is that going to work (4, Interesting)

Wycliffe (116160) | about 5 months ago | (#47277637)

What size of an area should you have the right to block all signals? Why should you not have the right to block all signals in a larger area?

One example:
A movie theatre or restaurant should have the right to block all cell phone signals on their premise with proper testing
to make sure it stays within it's property lines and with proper signs stating that they do so.
Currently this is illegal so they sometimes go out of their way to passively block it at a much greater expense or
in some cases even require you to "check" your phone.

Why shouldn't I be allowed to block cell phone signals inside my home?
What if I want to test my home security system that relies on cell towers?
I could think of plenty of other "fair use" reasons that buying and using a cell jammer should be legal.

Re:So how is that going to work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47277751)

Why shouldn't I be allowed to block cell phone signals inside my home?

Depends. Can you guarantee that the emissions are limited only to your home and will in no way inconvenience others around you?

What if I want to test my home security system that relies on cell towers?

Then test it. You already know it relies on cell towers.

Re:So how is that going to work (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47278133)

"Depends. Can you guarantee that the emissions are limited only to your home and will in no way inconvenience others around you?"

Perhaps someone should have asked the broadcasters that question before allowing them to transmit through my person and property?

Re:So how is that going to work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47278283)

They did, they are called the FCC. God, some anon's are really stupid.

Re:So how is that going to work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47277815)

Why shouldn't I be allowed to block cell phone signals inside my home?

You are allowed to block signals inside your home... but not jam them.

Paint your house with rf blocking paint, wear anti-rf pants (yes they exist) and be sure to put your tinfoil hat back on!

Re:So how is that going to work (2)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 5 months ago | (#47277925)

I heard that a someone bought a signal jammer. I tried calling this guy at his Meth Factory, but I couldn't get through.

Re:So how is that going to work (2)

hey! (33014) | about 5 months ago | (#47278025)

One example:
A movie theatre or restaurant should have the right to block all cell phone signals on their premise

Or... they could politely ask anyone using a cell phone to leave, pointing to the signs they have prominently posted.

Sure, some patrons will be upset, but not as upset as the parent who misses a call from the baby sitter telling them to get to the hospital right away.

Re:So how is that going to work (5, Insightful)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 5 months ago | (#47278239)

A movie theatre or restaurant should have the right to block all cell phone signals on their premise with proper testing to make sure it stays within it's property lines and with proper signs stating that they do so.

Why? What makes you think that a free-for-all radio frequency spectrum is in anyone's best interest?

I'm guessing from your selfish attitude that you've never been an emergency services volunteer who donates a large amount of his free time to training how to save the lives of other people and might want to be able to go to a movie or a restaurant every so often and not be unable to get the notification that someone needs help. That's just one kind of person who needs to have cell service while in a movie theater or restaurant.

I could think of plenty of other "fair use" reasons that buying and using a cell jammer should be legal.

I doubt it. You can think of reasons why you think you are important enough that nobody should ever interfere with your personal pleasure, but that attitude ignores the fact that other people have the same rights. You cannot produce one argument that shows that my cell phone in my pocket at a restaurant interferes with you in any way, shape or form, yet you'd happily jam it so I can't get messages or calls just because you want to.

I think the best use of a jammer would have been to block the call to your Mom's ob/gyn when she went into a difficult labor with you. Why don't you go upstairs and ask her?

Re:So how is that going to work (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 5 months ago | (#47277773)

My property. From corner to corner.

Re:So how is that going to work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47277953)

You don't pay rent to the Government? I'll bet you do--they're called property taxes. If you don't pay them, the Government won't let you "own" your property.
Welcome to the Matrix

Re:So how is that going to work (1)

garyebickford (222422) | about 5 months ago | (#47278325)

Not really. Under Franklin Roosevelt, eminent domain was expanded to the point where you don't really own your land, you own a license to use it from the government, which can be revoked at any time.

Re:So how is that going to work (1, Insightful)

Arker (91948) | about 5 months ago | (#47278257)

"What size of an area should you have the right to block all signals?"

I think it's a good question, and one where law has gone a bit off it's logical wheels for commercial consideration.

Have you ever thought about the fact that at any given moment most of us have radio signals from hundreds of different sources beaming through across our property and even through our body, without anyone ever having to ask permission?

Now to a degree that makes sense. The benefit of having radio bandwidth available and the quite low levels of risk involved (at least as best we know) from exposure make it seem quite petty to attempt to block them completely, all the time. But it always seemed to me that at the very least, if someone is beaming a signal through my property without my permission, surely I then have a right to at least take a look at the signal. I mean, if they want it to be private, and they are sending it across my property without permission, surely at the very least it's their responsibility to encrypt and not my fault if they fail at that. I really am not the 'pirate tv' type - those people like tv - but among the few occasions when I have enjoyed it was when I used to pick up raw feeds, particularly the parts that never made it onto the regular broadcasts. The conversations people had while waiting for the signal that they were going on-air. Obviously I wasnt *intended* to see that, but it was broadcast through me and my property without my permission in a form I could read, so just how do they generate not only a right to penetrate me with radio waves as will, but even a right to force me to (figuratively, at least) close my eyes and not peek while they do it?

IIRC there was an early precedent or two supporting that outlook, but then someone started making money selling satellite TV and saw a threat to their system and eventually got precedents to the contrary, so you have no recognized right to read their signal, even though it's being broadcast through your property against your will, and even if it's so poorly encypted as to be transparent, am I correct?

And now this subject comes up. I know the ban on jammers is not new, of course, but this discussion of it is. And I really dont see why anyone else should have a say if I want to temporarily jam one of these signals, on my own property, for any number of reasons; as long as my jammer does not disrupt usage for those who are not on my property, how can this possibly be anyone elses concern?

Re:So how is that going to work (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 5 months ago | (#47277619)

Oh my god, do you troglodytes live in a fucking bubble or what.

No, the troglodytes live in the basement. However, comparing the earth to a bubble is somewhat apt, based on how radio waves bounce off the atmosphere.

Both you and the "I should have the right to do this" crowd are missing a few details.

1) Everyone has the right to block radiation. They have the right to do so inside any space they control.
2) Jamming is not blocking. Blocking is sticking a cone of silence around someone (yourself or the emitter) to keep from hearing their senseless yammering. Jamming is shouting louder then they are and attempting to confuse them so they can't talk anymore (more like this SoundJammer [extremetech.com] .

So you're both right, and you're both oh so wrong.

Re:So how is that going to work (1)

macpacheco (1764378) | about 5 months ago | (#47277895)

No you don't. The airwaves aren't yours just because you own some land.
L1 GPS spectrum is FCC licensed to the DOD.
Cell Phone microwave spectrum is FCC licensed (after paying billions in fees) to the respective cell phone operators, so no, you can't operate a cell phone jammer pretty much nowhere in the world.
You can only do that if you own an island somewhere in the world where you are you own country.
You're just another idiot that pretends the federal govt doesn't exist, go doing that until you get arrested and jailed for years for doing what you claim is your right.

Re:So how is that going to work (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 5 months ago | (#47278231)

And the law should be used to enforce against people who operate a device. Not because the device exists.

Re:So how is that going to work (2)

Obfuscant (592200) | about 5 months ago | (#47278299)

And the law should be used to enforce against people who operate a device. Not because the device exists.

It is much more efficient to enforce laws against illegal devices on the limited number of manufacturers and not on the billions of potential users.

I.e., if a device cannot legally be used, then stop before it is sold when you can get thousands of them at one time, instead of doing it one by one after tracking down the users.

Suppose the manufacturer in this case was a Chinese company making a cheap radio that emitted signals that interfered with the radio stations you wanted to listen to? Would you rather the FCC stop the manufacturer from making and selling such a piece of interfering garbage, or would it be better for you to have to call the FCC to have someone come out to track down the source and deal with it then? And then you have to call them again in a week because another neighbor bought the same piece of crap radio. And then again a week later...

Yes, I think you're right. Let the market be flooded with crap that creates interference for you all day, every day, and you can deal with tracking it down one by one by one ...

Re:So how is that going to work (1)

msauve (701917) | about 5 months ago | (#47277279)

"If i want a jammer i should be able to get one."

By the same logic that I should be able to come to your house with spotlights and a sound truck.

Re:So how is that going to work (1)

neminem (561346) | about 5 months ago | (#47277411)

That is not the same logic at all. By his logic, you should be able to *purchase* spotlights and a sound truck, which yes, yes you should. There are a lot of objects that make little sense to regulate merely owning, but a great deal of sense to regulate the *use* of. I'd put spotlights and sound trucks clearly in that category.

Objects that make sense to regulate merely owning, are those whose legitimate uses are much rarer than their illegitimate, and those where by the time someone has gotten in trouble for using it, it's far too late to do the person for whom it's been used *on* any good. GPS jammers are sort of in a grey area on that one - they probably do belong on the "regulate owning" side, but you can argue either way.

Re:So how is that going to work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47277607)

By the same logic that I should be able to come to your house with spotlights and a sound truck.

You can do whatever you like.

But you may not like the consequences of your actions if you go to the wrong house.

Re:So how is that going to work (1)

LocalH (28506) | about 5 months ago | (#47277333)

What law gives you the right to flood the EM spectrum with noise?

Re:So how is that going to work (1, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | about 5 months ago | (#47277379)

The same right that you have to spew nonsensical compressed waves into the air when you open your mouth and vibrate your vocal cords.

Re:So how is that going to work (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 5 months ago | (#47277549)

Until your mouth can spew out radio waves, freedom of speech doesn't cover the entire electromagnetic spectrum.
It also doesn't cover shouting so loud nobody around you can exercise their own right to free speech.

The RF spectrum is a finite resource, you're free to use specific public bands as long as you don't go over the power limits defined.

Just like you're not free to speak so loud nobody in your entire town can hear anything else.

Re:So how is that going to work (1)

Bing Tsher E (943915) | about 5 months ago | (#47278251)

Correct. So the law enforcement should focus on people who use equipment in unapproved way. Not in prohibiting equipment in the first place. I own an RF sweep generator, and it would be trivial to attach it to an RF amplifier and antenna and wreck havoc on the airwaves. It would be my doing so that would be illegal, not the fact that I own the RF sweep generator and the necessary skills to amplify and radiate the signal.

Re:So how is that going to work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47277559)

Impressive point.

Re:So how is that going to work (1)

Mister Liberty (769145) | about 5 months ago | (#47277603)

Maybe Dealextreme http://www.dx.com [dx.com] ?

Re:So how is that going to work (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 5 months ago | (#47277853)

You always run the risk of customs grabbing it. I wonder if anyone has been tracked down because a box came to the border with their name on it, with something that wasn't allowed here. You didn't take receipt of said illegal item.. no proof you even asked for it really.

Re:So how is that going to work (1)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 5 months ago | (#47278357)

Depends on how you paid for it. Any US financial institution, credit card issuer, paypal, or equivalent would roll over, wag their tail, and corroborate your order in short order. If it were unsolicited, or paid for by some suitably byzantine money trail, they might try to treat it as probable cause for some sort of further investigation, if the goods were sufficiently juicy. If not, it'd probably sit around waiting for you to pick it up, then eventually get shredded.

Re:So how is that going to work (1)

Casper0082 (2274124) | about 5 months ago | (#47277271)

They might not have jurisdiction, but they can block the company from exporting their goods to the US until they pay the fine.

Re:So how is that going to work (1)

silas_moeckel (234313) | about 5 months ago | (#47277327)

Yea because customs is going to inspect every package coming in from china looking for these.

Re:So how is that going to work (4, Insightful)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 5 months ago | (#47277315)

Unless the company has assets and/or a legal presence in America, they will laugh and give the FCC the middle finger.

In that case they will no longer be able to sell anything in America. The US can also prohibit any bank doing business in the USA from doing business with them. That means pretty much every multinational bank in the world, which will prevent CTS Technology from engaging in any business outside of China. I doubt if there is a big domestic Chinese market for jammers.

Re:So how is that going to work (2)

msauve (701917) | about 5 months ago | (#47277345)

I'll bet it simple and cheap to form a new company, though.

Re:So how is that going to work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47277381)

Difficult to enforce. Example: thousands of foreign Internet pharmacies sell prescriptions to Americans through the mail by credit card. This is blatantly illegal, yet it goes on unabated for 15+ years.

Re:So how is that going to work (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 5 months ago | (#47277579)

If there is $35M to collect, somebody is going to care about enforcing it.
CTS Technology might be upset if Paypay. ebay, Amazon, Visa, Mastercard, AMEX, etc. can no longer work with them.

Re:So how is that going to work (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47278225)

If there is $35M to collect, somebody is going to care about enforcing it.
CTS Technology might be upset if Paypay. ebay, Amazon, Visa, Mastercard, AMEX, etc. can no longer work with them.

A shell company in Delaware is pretty cheap, I imagine one in Shanghai is cheaper.
CTS2 Inc, a distribution company legally distinct from CTS will have no problems with Paypal etc. Well, no more than anyone else has with Paypalsucks.com

Re:So how is that going to work (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 5 months ago | (#47277489)

They have jurisdiction at the US border and can block all shipments from the company, regardless of the content until they pay their fine.

Re:So how is that going to work (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47277651)

They have jurisdiction at the US border and can block all shipments from the company, regardless of the content until they pay their fine.

The war on drugs has not stopped the flow of drugs
into the US, and similar results can be expected in this case.

Your mom may have told you that you were smart, but she lied.

In related news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47277151)

In related news the US legal system finds it has no jurisdiction in China

FCC Violating Second Amendment (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47277157)

Jammers are a weapon and US citizens have the right to bare arms.

Re:FCC Violating Second Amendment (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 5 months ago | (#47277187)

I am not sure if you are joking but a doubt going sleeveless has anything to do with jammers. Also, jammers are not weapons as defined by law.

Re:FCC Violating Second Amendment (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | about 5 months ago | (#47277387)

Also, jammers are not weapons as defined by law.

It depends on where you jam them.

That company could have made a fortune selling Google Glass jammers. But methinks some other dubious company will step up to the plate . . . for a while, anyway, until the FCC catches them, as well.

It will be like the illegal drug market . . . as long as someone wants to buy one, someone will be selling them . . .

Re:FCC Violating Second Amendment (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 5 months ago | (#47277529)

It will be like the illegal drug market

The difference being that the drug market is very profitable. The jammer market? Not so much.

Re:FCC Violating Second Amendment (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47277891)

It will be like the illegal drug market

The difference being that the drug market is very profitable. The jammer market? Not so much.

And so amazingly trivial to find the jammer. Ham radio operators make a sport of direction finding. And in this case trivial to do. This would be the strongest signal in the area, on for long enough to disrupt phone service. Silently guiding law enforcement to your front door.

Really, when Internet guvmint hating tough guys bray about their right to own and use such things, and they "Don't care 'bout no regulations". This might be the dumbest thing to hang their hopes of stickin' it to the man on. Piss off all those regular citizens using their smartphones, maybe even blocking GPS signals. Yeah, that will bring people to your cause - probably with pitchforks. An unlawful activity that provides it's own "Here I Am!" finder service.

Re:FCC Violating Second Amendment (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 5 months ago | (#47277591)

A 'Google Glass' jammer?
You mean a cellphone jammer that can't discriminate between a Google Glass device and a phone trying to make an emergency call?

Re:FCC Violating Second Amendment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47277257)

Don't you have a bridge to jump off of?

Re:FCC Violating Second Amendment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47277335)

Thought I would shove a few people first.

Re:FCC Violating Second Amendment (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47277689)

If I want to destroy the Sun with my Higgs-Suppression Warhead, that's my 2nd Amendment right, libtard! Next thing you know, they'll want to take away our Vacuum-Metastability Tunnel-Inducer Arrays. I need that for hunting: to eliminate the concept of a duck from existence.

Re:FCC Violating Second Amendment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47277961)

Jammers are a weapon and US citizens have the right to bare arms.

And once again, a comment rating proving that in Slashdot Newspeak, "Insightful" actually means "Idiotic."

The right to bare arms. (2)

westlake (615356) | about 5 months ago | (#47278287)

Someone has been out in the sun too long.

Banning Knowledge next? (0)

nurb432 (527695) | about 5 months ago | (#47277191)

So will they also ban the knowledge of howto make your own? Call you a terrorist just for knowing how.. or telling others?

Aside from being braindead simple for an EE to do it in their sleep:

http://www.instructables.com/i... [instructables.com]

Re:Banning Knowledge next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47277251)

Just because you can build a jammer, doesn't mean it's legal to operate one. It's certainly not legal to import them, that's for damn certain. http://www.arrl.org/news/fcc-i... [arrl.org]

Re:Banning Knowledge next? (2)

slimjim8094 (941042) | about 5 months ago | (#47277299)

It's even easier than that - a spark gap radio transmitter will jam most things.

But you should expect to get your ass handed to you for using them regardless of how you got one. They're an unlicensed radio transmitter transmitting on licensed spectrum. If you piss off the FCC enough to come find you, they won't fuck around - I'd post a citation, but funnily enough there's one at the top of the article.

Re:Banning Knowledge next? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47277937)

So will they also ban the knowledge of howto make your own? Call you a terrorist just for knowing how.. or telling others?

The slippery slope authority called, they said that you've won the award this year.

Yes, it is a trivial matter. And yes, I could build one in a few minutes.

Also yeah, if cell phone service suddenly dropped out in my area, it would be really quick to find out it's coming from me, and my little single purpose device will go away as evidence at my trial.

Because there's no legitimate use for the jammers, either home-brew or bought. They have one purpose.

This is hilarious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47277197)

China can do what they want. The US govt sold their soul to China a while ago. They hold the cards, and if we get bitchy, they quit holding the dollar. The US govt will give them what they want to keep doing whatever they want. And O-boy will back whatever the powers to be tell him to.

Re:This is hilarious (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47277303)

You are a fucking moron, just fyi...

Re:This is hilarious (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 5 months ago | (#47277611)

That's right, because CTS Technology is the Chinese Government and $35M is a significant amount of money to their $8T GDP

Good. (5, Insightful)

msauve (701917) | about 5 months ago | (#47277241)

Now, go after all the police agencies using Stingray/Hailstorm/Triggerfish/Kingfish/etc. devices to listen to cell phone conversations without warrants. They do, of course, transmit on licensed frequencies, and the cops don't have a license. They also violate anti-cellular reception laws, and are themselves illegal according to the FCC:

The Communications Act also contains provisions that affect the manufacture of equipment used for listening to or receiving radio transmissions, such as "scanners." The FCC cannot authorize scanning equipment that:
can receive transmissions in the frequencies allocated to domestic cellular services; can readily be altered by the user to intercept cellular communications; or may be equipped with decoders that convert digital transmissions to analog voice audio. In addition, these receivers may not be manufactured in the United States or imported for use in the United States. FCC regulations also prohibit the sale or lease of scanning equipment that is not authorized by the FCC.

Re:Good. (1)

DaHat (247651) | about 5 months ago | (#47277309)

Have you forgotten all of the carve outs in various laws which make it legal for law enforcement to do/own things that your average civilian is prohibited from?

You and I can't legally run red lights or drive faster than the posted speed... but when a cop turns on his lights, they can.

Re:Good. (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 5 months ago | (#47277695)

Hmm... what does it take to become official law enforcement? I don't mean joining some current force, but if I set up my own "Em's Policing" and hired myself ut to some farmer in Nebraska, would I then be "law enforcement" and thus allowed to do all these things?

I'm serious: it seem that in some areas, the barrier to entry for becoming and continuing to be law enforcement isn't all that high.

Since Law Enforcement doesn't need any official/legal paperwork to use these things, that means they can use them however they like, as long as the general public doesn't find out and get upset enough to do something.

Re:Good. (2)

DaHat (247651) | about 5 months ago | (#47277999)

It's a cartel... and you only get to join and enjoy the perks if they let you in.

Yes, you could go start "Em's Policing", but then the existing law enforcement folks might not take too kindly to the competition and charge you with imitating a police officer, as well as the other acts you committed while in their eyes, pretending.

It all goes back to the old line of "What is the difference between government and a band of highwaymen? Scale."

Re:Good. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47277339)

Your most likely incorrect assumptions are:

1) The FCC doesn't know of and condone usage of these devices.

2) You don't know that the police DON'T have a license. They very well could. It isn't like you can look up license status through Google.

3) You don't know that there isn't a legislative amendment, rider bill, loophole, or actual law that gives the cops a bypass of those other requirements.

Re:Good. (2)

msauve (701917) | about 5 months ago | (#47277431)

"It isn't like you can look up license status through Google"

First, cellular frequency bands have mostly been "sold" to carriers, who are the only ones authorized to use those frequencies.

Second, the FCC itself, although not Google, certainly does have a license search [fcc.gov] (go to advanced if you want to search by frequency).

(and WTF is a "legislative amendment?" Cite something, if you can, instead of arguing by asking someone to prove a negative)

Re:Good. (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 5 months ago | (#47277647)

What makes your think the police agencies are using radio receivers to listen to phone conversations?
Phones transmit with the least amount of power required to reach the cell tower. The cell tower uses directional antennas to transmit only in the required direction to get back to the cellphone.

You'd need to be very close to your subject to get anything.

Much easier to listen at the wire/fibre level. No FCC required there either.

Re:Good. (2)

clonehappy (655530) | about 5 months ago | (#47277723)

Ever heard of a Stingray? The police have been using them like hotcakes all over the country. The feds even went as far as to raid a police station who was going to release a FOIA request about their use. Long story short, they emulate a cell phone tower and trick the "target" handset into connecting to it. It's a hardware MITM over the cell network. Highly illegal, violates a number of laws and FCC regulations. Of course, those are perfectly fine since it's the power elite using them against YOU. You want a cell-phone free zone in your museum or church? PIRATERRORISM, of course.

Re:Good. (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 5 months ago | (#47277845)

It wouldn't be illegal as far as the FCC is concerned if they got the permission of the cell carrier.

Invade China ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47277243)

So we are going to invade China then ? Thats the only way i can see us collecting a fine from a company based in Shenzen.

Re:Invade China ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47277285)

Or forbid them from ever selling a damn good in the US ever again...that might hurt just a wee bit.

Re:Invade China ? (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 5 months ago | (#47277663)

Or forbid any banks who do business in US to do business with them. Good bye credit card payments.

You Fail I7! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47277267)

FCC wants to preserve the monopoly (0)

Virtucon (127420) | about 5 months ago | (#47277291)

The Feds via the FCC don't want spectrum ;that they've sold to be jammed in any way. They'd rather have obtuse rules and regulations to protect the "public" airwaves. The way I see it, I should also have the right not to be killed by some idiot on the road who decides that his right to text supersedes the fact that he's supposed to operate his vehicle in a safe manner. Now if this company does give them a list of customers, the knock on your door will be coming with a nice hefty fine. All of course in the name of keeping the airwaves clutter free so Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint can basically charge you an arm and a leg for it.

Re:FCC wants to preserve the monopoly (3, Insightful)

LocalH (28506) | about 5 months ago | (#47277361)

You seriously equate jammers with the "right not to be killed by some idiot on the road who decides that his right to text supersedes the fact that he's supposed to operate his vehicle in a safe manner"? What, are you jamming from your mobile vehicle? Great, so when you're passing a wreck, your jammer floods out the call they're currently making to 911, requiring a redial, costing precious seconds which could quite literally cost that person their life. All in your quest to stamp out texting and driving. News flash - all it takes is a single packet to make it through for a text to send.

Re:FCC wants to preserve the monopoly (3, Insightful)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 5 months ago | (#47277693)

All it takes is a single jammed packet for the texter to look down at their phone again and re-send the message that failed to send.

They now took their eyes off the road a second time, because someone jammed their text message.

About Time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47277293)

Signal jammers are a serious problem and anyone operating one is looking at a whopper fine and/or jail time. If you like to be able to call 911 and have emergency services show up and do their job, if you like GPS/Cell phone/WiFi to work reliably, we can't have jammers being used by civilians. Period. That's why it's illegal in the US. Your rights end where mine begin, and use of the RF spectrum is a right that we all share together and abide by rules so all can benefit.

To the non-US citizen anti gun troll: In the US we own arms to protect our families from thugs, and to remind our government that they work for us, not the other way around. Fun fact: after Pearl Harbor, Japan chose not to invade the west coast of the US because they feared catastrophic losses from armed civilians, not the resistance of what was left of the US navy. Another tidbit: The most heavily armed areas actually have the lowest crime rates, while areas with the strictest gun laws are also the highest crime zones. It is a lot more dangerous to be a mugger or rapist when your target (or another citizen) might blow your head off.

Re:About Time (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47277565)

It is a lot more dangerous to be an American when your neighbour (or another citizen) might blow your head off for looking at them funny.

Re:About Time (1)

m00sh (2538182) | about 5 months ago | (#47278209)

To the non-US citizen anti gun troll: In the US we own arms to protect our families from thugs, and to remind our government that they work for us, not the other way around.

That will change with the use of drones by law enforcement thugs and homeland security and possibly the drug cartels. Too bad you won't have signal jammers to use against the drones.

Remote controlled threats are going to be huge in the next few years. You need signal jammers against those threats in your own home. Though I presume you'll say you will shoot the drones.

My aching back! (1)

synthesizerpatel (1210598) | about 5 months ago | (#47277347)

This means I have to go back to carrying around a microwave oven and a car battery doesn't it?

There are legit uses (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47277349)

I bought a GSM jammer and a GPS jammer a few years ago to test the jamming detection capabilities of GPS trackers.

I have only used them a couple times in an area where there are no people at all for miles around.

At first, I tried them in a shielded quiet room but that was pretty much useless as the trackers needed to be live with an active SIM and GPS lock for the tests to mean anything.

So now I guess I can expect a knock on my door from a couple guys with no sense of humor that drive a nondescript sedan with black wall tires.

Joy

Re:There are legit uses (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 5 months ago | (#47277709)

Did you even attempt to apply for a license from the FCC?

Re:There are legit uses (1)

clonehappy (655530) | about 5 months ago | (#47277749)

So now I guess I can expect a knock on my door from a couple guys with no sense of humor that drive a nondescript sedan with black wall tires.

Nondescript sedan with blackwall tires? Weren't those the days...

Howabouts a no-knock raid on your next door neighbor's house (since the jackboots can't be assed to get the house number right in most cases) where they shoot his dog and break his grandma's nose with the butt of the rifle for telling them to fuck off?

"Sting?" (2)

msobkow (48369) | about 5 months ago | (#47277409)

They were advertising and selling openly. I fail to see how any kind of "sting" operation was required to trick them into selling the illegal hardware, or to catch them doing it.

Enforcement Bureau - 2013 Orders (5, Interesting)

Xenolith0 (808358) | about 5 months ago | (#47277433)

http://transition.fcc.gov/eb/Orders/ [fcc.gov]

To see others the FCC has gone after, check out their website. Some of them are really interest; such as:

$49K for this guy: http://www.fcc.gov/document/48k-penalty-proposed-against-individual-cell-jammer-investigation-0 [fcc.gov]

http://transition.fcc.gov/eb/Orders/2014/FCC-14-26A1.html [fcc.gov] Thiscompany got dinged 29K for operating a cell phone jammer in their warehouse.

CTS is clueless... (1)

NoKaOi (1415755) | about 5 months ago | (#47277829)

Any large company with knowledge of how to do business in America would have known to invest a little in lobbying and campaign contributions.

Just charge it against their US treasury bonds (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47277963)

They already know we are going to default on them anyway.

Industrial strength US BS (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47278119)

That firm will never pay a dime. They don't have to and will never be required to by the Chinese government. They will close shop and come back as another black market company. What an amazing load of Bovine Excrement.

Illegal to own? (1)

marciot (598356) | about 5 months ago | (#47278297)

Why do they need the names of everyone who bought one of these? Is it illegal to own one? What if I bought one because it was just the right size and weight for a doorstop?

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