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                                                                    DA 12-347

                                                                March 6, 2012

                                             Enforcement Advisory No. 2012-02


             CONSUMER ALERT: Using or Importing Jammers is Illegal

              Monetary Penalties Can Exceed $100,000 per violation

   In recent days, there have been various press reports about commuters
   using cell phone jammers to create a "quiet zone" on buses or trains. We
   caution consumers that it is against the law to use a cell or GPS jammer
   or any other type of device that blocks, jams or interferes with
   authorized communications, as well as to import, advertise, sell, or ship
   such a device. The FCC Enforcement Bureau has a zero tolerance policy in
   this area and will take aggressive action against violators.

                              ***CONSUMER ALERT***

     * Illegal to Operate Jammers in the U.S.  Unless you are an authorized
       federal government user, you may not operate a jammer in the U.S.,
       even on private property. This means that it is illegal to use a
       jammer on mass transit (e.g., train, bus) or in a residence, vehicle,
       school, theater, restaurant or in any other public or private place.

     * Illegal to Import Jammers into the U.S. If you purchase a jammer
       online and ship it to the U.S., you have violated federal law. When
       you buy jammers from outside the U.S.-used or new -you become the
       "importer" of an illegal device. It does not matter whether you
       purchased the device from an established business or an individual
       selling the jammer in an online auction. Jammers imported from
       overseas are also subject to seizure at the border.

     * Illegal to Sell or Advertise Jammers Online or in Stores.  You may not
       sell or advertise jammers to individuals or businesses on online
       auction or marketplace sites, in retail stores, or even at your local
       flea market. Selling even a single jammer is illegal. You also are
       prohibited from shipping a jammer in the U.S.

     * Monetary Penalties Can Exceed $100,000 per violation.  Violations of
       the jamming prohibition can lead to substantial monetary penalties (up
       to $112,500 for any single act), seizure of the illegal jammer, and
       criminal sanctions including imprisonment. 

     * If you are aware of the use of a jammer, please contact the FCC at
       1-888-CALL-FCC or

   What are "jammers"? Generally, "jammers"-which include devices commonly
   called signal blockers, GPS jammers, cell phone jammers, text blockers,
   etc.-are illegal radio frequency transmitters that are designed to block,
   jam, or otherwise interfere with authorized radio communications.

   How do jammers work? A jammer can block all radio communications on any
   device that operates on radio frequencies within its range (i.e., within a
   certain radius of the jammer) by emitting radio frequency waves that
   prevent the targeted device from establishing or maintaining a connection.
   Jamming technology generally does not discriminate between desirable and
   undesirable communications. For example, jammers can:

     * prevent your cell phone from making or receiving calls, text messages,
       and emails;

     * prevent your Wi-Fi enabled device from connecting to the Internet;

     * prevent your GPS unit from receiving correct positioning signals; and

     * prevent a first responder from locating you in an emergency.

   Why are jammers prohibited? Jammers do not just weed out noisy or annoying
   conversations and disable unwanted GPS tracking. Jammers can prevent 9-1-1
   and other emergency phone calls from getting through or interfere with
   police and other law enforcement communications. For example, the recent
   use of a cell phone jammer in an office building disrupted communications
   of a nearby Fire Department. When Enforcement Bureau agents investigated
   the incident, we found that a CPA who apparently did not want to be
   disturbed during the busy tax season was using a small, inexpensive cell
   jammer inside his office. But, the jammer was disrupting critical public
   safety communications outside his building as well.

   In another recent instance, a high school teacher used a jammer in his
   classroom. Responding to a complaint, Enforcement Bureau agents tracked
   the device to a locked cabinet in the metal shop.  Unknown to the teacher,
   the jammer was blocking all teachers, students, and staff throughout the
   school from making any calls, including emergency calls, and it could have
   had tragic consequences.

   Need more information? For additional information regarding enforcement of
   the jamming prohibition, visit or contact
   Daudeline Meme, Kevin Pittman or Neal McNeil of the Enforcement Bureau at
   (202) 418-1160 or To file a complaint, visit or call 1-888-CALL-FCC.

   Frequently asked questions about cell, GPS, and Wi-Fi jammers are
   available at

   Media inquiries should be directed to Neil Grace at (202) 418-0506 or or to Karen Onyeije at (202) 418-1757 or

   To request materials in accessible formats for people with disabilities
   (Braille, large print, electronic files, audio format), send an e-mail to or call the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at (202)
   418-0530 (voice), (202) 418-0432 (TTY). You may also contact the
   Enforcement Bureau on its TTY line at (202) 418-1148 for further
   information about this Enforcement Advisory, or the FCC on its TTY line at
   1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322) for further information about the jamming

   Issued by: Chief, Enforcement Bureau

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                                  Page 1 of 2

                            FCC ENFORCEMENT ADVISORY

   Federal Communications Commission

   445 12th St., S.W.

   Washington, D.C. 20554

                                        News Media Information 202 / 418-0500


                                                          TTY: 1-888-835-5322