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Communications

Cell Phone Jammers: Coming To An Event Near You? 332

DarwinDan writes "The L.A. Daily News has an article about Cell phone jamming to prevent terrorists from detonating bombs remotely. Jamming technology is already being used "to protect President Bush." An interesting quote from the article: "Public safety is more important than public convenience.""
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Cell Phone Jammers: Coming To An Event Near You?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 16, 2004 @09:48AM (#9166561)
    It's a small price to pay to guard one of our greatest treasures... G.W. Bush!
    • Like shutting central London down for a couple of days so he could visit some bloke in Downing Street?
    • by rastakid ( 648791 ) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @11:11AM (#9167006) Homepage Journal
      I read a while ago about this technique also being used to switch off mobile phones in places like theatres, cinema's and churches. So, it has yet another 'feature' for the public.
      I don't want to be interrupted by a ringtone while watching Van Helsing, but I think switching my Nokia to 'silence' enables this far enough, I don't need help from others silencing my cellphone.
      • I don't want to be interrupted by a ringtone while watching Van Helsing

        ANY excuse to get out of that movie would be better than nothing.
      • Yes, people can silence their cellphones, but how often do they remember to do so? Some girl in one of my classes NEVER silenced her phone, not even during finals, when she got hurt that the professor would not let her leave the room to answer her phone. Last week I was in a court room and some guys phone rang, he hurridly turned it off. People are so attached to these things that they never even think to silence them.

        I had a job where I needed a cellphone, but I ditched the damn thing the second I quit
  • by JessLeah ( 625838 ) * on Sunday May 16, 2004 @09:49AM (#9166565)
    A wise man once said "Those who would give up essential liberty for temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."...

    Of course, it's only arguable that cell phone usage is an "essential liberty", but then again you can argue just about anything on the Internet ;)
    • by DaHat ( 247651 ) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @09:56AM (#9166602) Homepage
      It's a good thing that I've got my cell phone handy to call 911 with in case I see possible terrorist activity! Oh wait...
      • by avalys ( 221114 ) * on Sunday May 16, 2004 @10:26AM (#9166734)
        If you're at an event important enough to warrant one of these devices, I doubt the authorities are depending on citizens' 911 calls to tell them about emergencies. The police have this nifty gadget called a radio...
        • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 16, 2004 @10:30AM (#9166751)
          [i]The police have this nifty gadget called a radio...[/i]

          Good thing the terrorists can't get those, or they could remote detonate bombs even with their cellphones jammed!
        • by 3Suns ( 250606 ) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @11:03AM (#9166951) Homepage
          The problem is in the precedent it sets. Once the public gets used to cellphone "dead zones", people will start using jammers in other areas for other reasons. How about at a movie theatre or concert? A fancy restaurant?

          Another jamming cellphones doesn't just cause a problem by preventing citizens from dialing 911. Many public safety personnell, like detectives, part-time police, and firefighters are on call for duty via their cellphones or pagers. What happens if they can't be contacted in an emergency?
          • I never thought of the doctor/fire fighter angle on this issue. But I still think that blocking cell signals in theators, resturants, classrooms, and courtrooms is a good idea. It really is annoying. In most classes I have taken the instructor tells everyone to turn off the little buggers, but no one does, even during tests and finals.

            At the last movie I went and saw, peoples phones were ringing nonstop, throughout the whole film. The guy two seats ahead of me stayed on the phone through the whole damn
            • I could equate your argument with attempts to censor "objectionable material" and profanity from TV, radio, and print media. You seem to assume some basic right to not be annoyed, just as supporters of censorship assume a right to not be offended.

              The fact is, there is no such right to not be annoyed, and there is no right to not be offended. If I keep my cellphone on vibrate during movies, at restaurants, etc... why should I be prevented from getting urgent messages? I think the solution (as has been su
              • While I see a LAW saying cell jammers in theatres as being bad, I see the ABILITY for movie operators to put them in as a good thing. I think letting people decide if they'd like interuption free movies by picking which chain they'd like to go to would be an excellent decision to be made by a market. And if there is a small niche that likes one over the other, smaller chains or certain theatres can do the thing lesser people prefer.
              • Sometimes I wonder if censoring objectionable material might not be a good idea. Too much trash, to much noise, not enough content. But then again I would ban reality television too. People should look at how well we are doing in trashing our society, breeding a race of ADHD idiots. I digress.

                I never claimed a right, but common good graces, respect for your fellow man. Being that people lack manners, they should be enforced. When I go to a good resturant, a movie, the theater, or classes, I'm paying
          • Once the public gets used to cellphone "dead zones", people will start using jammers in other areas for other reasons. How about at a movie theatre or concert? A fancy restaurant?

            Great. Sign me up.

            Seriously, I'd be happy to pay a premium if the movie or restaurant I was thinking of going to advertised itself as using jamming gear, perhaps, with a little marketing pizazz, they might tout that a "Self-Absorbed Idiot Free-Area" was available.

            Doctors and firefighters, of course, would be wise to avoid thes
          • Re: Theatre usage (Score:3, Interesting)

            by lxt ( 724570 )
            As I've posted on a similar topic a while back, there are commercial devices available for usage in theatres / cinemas that although don't jam cellphones, do detect them. They basically play a loud noise (typically a really annoying voice saying "Please switch off your cellphone"), until they detect no more signals.
        • by surprise_audit ( 575743 ) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @11:29AM (#9167134)
          The police have this nifty gadget called a radio..
          Which raises an interesting point - is this a broad spectrum jammer, or just cellphones?? You can get:

          1) low power walkie-talkies in Walmart for a few bucks. Range is maybe 100 yards, which would be enough.
          2) radio control for model aircraft. Range is 1/2 mile or more and it would be really easy to make a servo operate a switch.
          3) it really isn't very difficult to make a spark-gap transmitter, with a wide-spectrum frequency range.

          Any of those would be sufficient to remotely trigger an explosive device. And over at Scitoys.com there's a very simple design for a laser communicator made from a laser pointer and a solar cell...

      • Just yell out "BOMB!!!!!". Someone will notify the police the old fashioned way of screaming.
    • by jimicus ( 737525 ) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @09:57AM (#9166605)
      A wise man once said "Those who would give up essential liberty for temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."...

      Somewhat appropriate, then, that they GET neither liberty nor safety in 95% of cases.

      They lose the liberty to use their cellphone.

      They don't get safety because anyone who really wants to blow something up isn't going to be deterred by something as small as a cell phone jammer.

    • Well yes, I think you're stretching it just a wee bit by saying that cell phone usage is an essential liberty ;)

      Imho the real danger lies when someone takes small steps that eventually DO lead to a loss of liberty. If you can't make a big jump, then do a lot of small ones that you can rationalize individually.

      A >> B >> C >> D

      A to B is perfectly logical, likewise B to C and C to D, but if you step back and look at A and then D you're probably not going to like what you see.
    • "Those who would give up essential liberty for temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."

      Easier to say it than to do it.

      "Public safety is more important than public convenience."

      Anyway, I think that the quote doesn't take into account that public safety IS public convenience sometimes. The fact I swear at my cell when someone's jamming it to prevent a bomb from detonating doesn't mean I don't think they should've done that.

      And anyway I would say that cell phones are FAR from being an

    • though they're probably only affordable by big-city departments.

      Whenever you've got barricaded subject(s), you always want to cut off their communications... get them talking to you and nobody else. This keeps other people from interfering with hostage negotiations, feeding the subjects intel, warning them that a breach is imminent, calling in reinforcements, etc, etc.

      There was a case a few years back in Tampa, Florida... multiple cop-killer actually called a radio station and gave an interview before ki
  • What about 911? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by MKalus ( 72765 ) <{mkalus} {at} {gmail.com}> on Sunday May 16, 2004 @09:50AM (#9166573) Homepage
    Isn't THAT safety as well?

    Besides, if someone wants to detonate a bomb they will find a way, and if they have to press the button themselves.

    • Re:What about 711? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kunudo ( 773239 ) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @10:24AM (#9166721)
      If they knew what they were doing, they'd just get a java-enabled cellphone, and if it wasn't called within some time gap, and the signal suddenly dropped to 0 because it was being jammed, the phone would detonate the bomb based on that. Jamming is just one more hoop they have to hop through to set off the bomb.
      • Re:What about 711? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by cluckshot ( 658931 )

        Pretty much an example that as soon as you beat the bad guys tech, they change it. Frankly the whole issue regards jammers is best illustrated by why are they protecting our President with it and NOT protecting our soldiers in Iraq with it. If you have someone in your family who is serving in Iraq, buy them a cell phone jammer. They are cheap and available over seas.

        In the mean time roast the back side of your congress critter for not supplying this tech for our soldiers to be safe.

    • Athens Bomb (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Wasn't the athens bomb (100 days before the olympics) made up of some sticks of dynamite connected to an alarm clock?

      Police are looking for a brown coyote with suspected association to an organisation known only as ACME.

    • I agree completely. This is not going to help at ALL. Blocking legitimate emergency calls will most likely call a LOT of problems.

      I seriously doubt this will prevent any terrorist attacks. There are so many other ways to detonate the thing remotely, along with timers and old-fashioned suicide bombing.
  • by tvh2k ( 738947 ) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @09:52AM (#9166577)
    So sell phones are only a few frequencies out of the million that could be used to transmit "trigger" signals to bombs. What's to stop a terrorist from using some cheap VHF handheld to denonate their bomb? If they transmit the code over airport security frequencies or whatever, you can almost garuntee those won't be blocked.
    • If they transmit the code over airport security frequencies or whatever, you can almost garuntee those won't be blocked.

      Also, you can garuntee (sic) a premature detonation.
      • No, that is a silly assumption. Detonators don't listen for simply a signal on a frequency. The need some kind of keyed code.... -PHiZ
    • What about the radio frequency that the president's body guards would be using to communicate with each other? I doubt they'd block that so there's a handy frequency to use right there.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      I think the main point is that this makes it a little harder for terrorists to fabricate bombs - a mobile phone is a very good off-the-shelf remote triggering device that is also very precise in the way it works.

      Not having access to the standard mobile phone detonation technique means that terrorists have to go down the fabrication route, which means trial and error, possible accidents, and a much higher chance that a planted bomb won't go off as planned - if at all.

      Personally, I agree with you in that it
    • Indeed there are many many ways to trigger a bomb.
      Since you mention airports, what if someone used the WiFi that is available on some public places (like airports) to SSH from his home in other side of the world and 'trigger' the bomb? Should we ban that too?
    • From what I understand the whole cellphone problem is that you have a network allready in place to transmit and repeat across even countries. Timer on Bomb in USA attached to cell phone, call cell phone from France and BOOM.

      maybe this works for other frequencies as well, maybe someone could enlighten on that subject

  • by adam mcmaster ( 697132 ) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @09:52AM (#9166579) Homepage
    "Oh my! That looks like a bomb! I'd better call 911...wait, why isn't my phone working?!"
    ...Followed by an explosion a few minutes later.
  • bob marley (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 16, 2004 @09:53AM (#9166581)
    We're jammin', jammin',
    And I hope you like jammin', too.
  • Rediculous (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Noose For A Neck ( 610324 ) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @09:53AM (#9166582)
    I hope their doing broadband jamming - it's not as if cellphones are the only means for wireless communication.

    Other than that, this is just yet another textbook example of the Bush Administration stomping all over the constitutional rights of its citizenry (but he hasn't really been very supportive of free speech from the get-go anyhow, so you shouldn't be surprised.) When are people going to get pissed off enough at this outrageous behavior and finally vote him out of office? He still seems to be ahead in the polls. Get it together, Americans!

    • free speach (Score:3, Funny)

      by bsDaemon ( 87307 )
      was designed to apply to political speach. You have the right to speak out against the government. You do not have the "right" to public obsentity, profanity, any of the myriad of things "artists" claime are "speach." Using a cellphone is not "speach," although it's "speaking." Where the hell do you have the right to a telephone, anyway? Maybe the 9th amendment. But that's a stretch. Cell phones piss me off. seriously. Personally, I think they should be so prohibitly expensive that only doctors and
      • Where the hell do you have the right to a telephone, anyway? Maybe the 9th amendment. But that's a stretch. Cell phones piss me off. seriously. Personally, I think they should be so prohibitly expensive that only doctors and drug dealers can afford them.

        And what constitutional right of yours justifies trumping my ability to have a cell phone?

        You may not like cell phones, but you have to put up with them. Don't use some political paranoia to justify your own personal convenience and comfort over others.
      • Re:free speach (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dolphinling ( 720774 )
        You do not have the "right" to public obsentity, profanity, any of the myriad of things "artists" claime are "speach."

        That falls under the second amendment. The government tries to take away my freedom of expression, I try and take away the government.

      • Re:free speach (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Melantha_Bacchae ( 232402 ) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @11:50AM (#9167214)
        An actual emergency made worse by cell phone jamming:

        Citizen 1: "Hello, hello?". "Dammit, I can't get through on this thing."

        Citizen 2: "Better just assume its a normal hijacking then.

        As they slip back in their seats, Citizen 1: "Okay, we'll cooperate fully. We don't want anyone to get hurt."

        The terrorist smirks. Some time later, Flight 93 slams into the White House.

        The above scenario is obviously fictitious. The passengers of Flight 93 did not have their cell phones jammed. They did find out about the other planes hitting the WTC, and they did choose to sacrifice themselves to save lives.

        But as cell phones have already proven their usefulness in saving lives during a terrorist attack, it is ridiculous to be jamming them now.

        Regarding the issue of telephone rights:
        1) The government, using my tax money, set up the 911 service so I could get the help of police, fire, etc. if I really need it. Use of this service requires a telephone. As often 911 calls deal with the safety of the community (bank robbery, finding trapped people in a disaster, terrorism), jamming them endangers the community.

        2) Cell service is paid for. Under the Fifth Amendment (Bill of Rights), I require compensation if the government disrupts it.

        Movie (December 1998): "The great devil will come from the sky!"
        Video Subtitle (Summer 1999): "The King of Terror is coming!"
        American Version (May 2003): "The King of Terror!"
        Moll, "Mothra 3: King Ghidora Attacks" / "Rebirth of Mothra 3"
  • really safer? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ejaw5 ( 570071 ) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @09:54AM (#9166588)
    "Public safety is more important than public convenience"

    I'll bet many of the survivors of Sept. 11 2001 made it through because of cell phone communications.

    Okay, so lets say you DO run some frequency jammers...and some terrorist decide to use another means of communication to carry out their plans. Now you have a large number of people with no communication outside the affected area. Police/Medics will have a longer time of arriving to the scene. It will take longer to locate injured persons.

    • Re:really safer? (Score:3, Interesting)

      I'll bet many of the survivors of Sept. 11 2001 made it through because of cell phone communications.

      I doubt it. From what I remember, all the lines were clogged. It may have saved a few people but most of it was people trying to call relatives.
    • Re:really safer? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by betelgeuse-4 ( 745816 ) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @10:16AM (#9166691) Homepage Journal
      An explosion at a Glasgow factory last week caused the building to collapse, and some of the people trapped inside managed to contact the emergency services by cell phone, making them easier to locate. There hasn't been any suggestion that terrorists caused the explosion, but if a jammer had been in place and had survived the explosion, more people may have died.
    • Re:really safer? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Ironica ( 124657 ) <pixel@NospAM.boondock.org> on Sunday May 16, 2004 @10:58AM (#9166924) Journal
      I'll bet many of the survivors of Sept. 11 2001 made it through because of cell phone communications.

      In fact, we know that cell phone communications probably saved quite a number of lives on September 11, 2001. The folks on the fourth plane found out what was going on via their cell phones, and that's what made them decide to overwhelm the hijackers and crash in an empty field instead of whatever the intended target was.

      Frankly, it's hard to kill someone with a cell phone. It's a lot easier to save someone with it. So taking away the ability for EVERYONE to use them in most cases will cause more harm than good.
  • A discreet handheld jammer would be the perfect utility at a movie theater. Hell, they should start installing them in all of them.

    Anything that helps get those yappy valley girls to stfu is OK in my book.
    • Yeah, it works great until someone who is essential can't get an emergency call because you've jammed the cell phone of the teenage brat sitting two rows over from him.

      A much better technique for dealing with kids (especially ones under the age of 16) is to step directly in front of them, crouch down to their eye level, and tell them that if they don't STFU, that you are going to follow them out to their parents' car after the movie and tell their parents that their kids are not mature enough to attend mov
  • ... aren't there laws (or doesn't the FCC have mandates enforceable by law) against this kind of deliberate interference with communications systems?
  • by gorbachev ( 512743 ) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @09:55AM (#9166597) Homepage
    This sort of thing does very little to protect the people at large, while inconveniencing them quite a lot.

    The politician on the podium, however, has no use for a cellphone, so s/he won't be inconvenienced at all, while his/her safety is increased.

    Once again it's public policy taking care of their own. Seems to be a hallmark of this administration.
  • by DrXym ( 126579 ) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @09:56AM (#9166599)
    Change code from:

    IF kaboomSignal THEN
    blowup
    ENDIF

    To:

    IF NOT dontKaboomSignal THEN
    blowup
    ENDIF
    • So true! (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Only terrorists use BASIC.
    • Not that there aren't hundreds of other ways around this useless technology, but your suggestion would just cause the bomb to blow up as soon as the terrorist carried it into the protected area, most likely having no effect on the intended target (who would be at the center of the area, not at its edges).

      No, a better way would be to use a signal on a frequency that wasn't being jammed, or use a line-of-sight system with a laser, or use a good old-fashioned timer, or use a good old-fashioned suicide bomber,
      • by wfberg ( 24378 ) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @10:28AM (#9166742)
        Not that there aren't hundreds of other ways around this useless technology, but your suggestion would just cause the bomb to blow up as soon as the terrorist carried it into the protected area, most likely having no effect on the intended target (who would be at the center of the area, not at its edges).

        Bombs are usually planted in advance. This has several benefits for the bomb-planters, among those being not getting arrested and not getting blown up.

        Still, a good old timer does the job as well.

        Using some sort of over-the-air detonation can have benefits as well though; for example, say terrorists plant a bomb in some police cars. Upon seeing one of the compromised police cars (they are usually numbered right on the roof) close to the target, they detonate.

        They could even just use the police frequencies, since those are unlikely to be blocked, especially when there is a large police presence. Remember, they're terrorists, if they feel like using off-limits frequencies, they can. (If you want to call 911, you're stuck with licensed frequencies).
  • by kidlinux ( 2550 ) <dukeNO@SPAMspacebox.net> on Sunday May 16, 2004 @09:56AM (#9166601) Homepage
    Ok. Cell phones are jammed. What about the hogillion other frequencies that could be used to trigger the detonator? What about a timed detonator.

    And don't forget the terrorists favourite method - suicide bombing.

    I think cell phones are just the most convenient method. They'll find another way in a hurry, you can be sure about that.
    • What about the hogillion other frequencies that could be used to trigger the detonator?

      I'm no expert in this matter, but I would think that terrorists that make these bombs get "standard instructions" on how to build the bombs. This way a government agency knows what frequencies are most likely to be used, and therefore easier to be jammed. Of course it is possible to make a bomb detonate on other frequencies too, but are the average terrorist capable of that?

      What about a timed detonator.

      If you want

  • by mariox19 ( 632969 ) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @09:58AM (#9166612)

    I'm no radio expert, but isn't it still possible that you could simply use some other kind of transmission, rather than cell phones? Say, ham radio, police frequencies, citizen band, or whatever?

    Blocking cell phones seems to me to be what's called "security theater." It's all show to make people think they're safe, and (more especially) that the government is "hard at work ensuring the nation's security." (Blah, blah, blah.)

    This is good theater, too, because it is something that affects almost everybody at an event, so they're sure not to miss noticing the "hard work." Why, it'll be the talk of the town!

    At most, this is 10% security, 90% public relations.

  • by way2trivial ( 601132 ) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @09:59AM (#9166614) Homepage Journal
    block pager frequencies?

    walkie talker freqs (49 mhz)

    block fm radios?

    block am radios?

    block ham radio?
    block light?

    unless it's a faraday field in a box, part of the EM spectrum will get through... boom

    to paraphrase lelo, bada boom..

  • LOL! (Score:5, Funny)

    by John Seminal ( 698722 ) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @09:59AM (#9166618) Journal
    "The military has airplanes that can fly over and block an entire city. A lot of hospitals use them to prevent cell phones from triggering someone's defibrillator."

    And exactly what number is that? I had an old math teacher in highschool... err... nevermind.

  • Yeah, that's great. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Limecron ( 206141 )
    So instead, they'll just detonate the bomb when there's an excessive amount interference.

    I wonder if they jam pager frequencies as well? Pagers seem like they'd be a much more sensible choice. Much longer battery life, coverage is EVERYWHERE, and they don't broadcast a traceable signal.

    I love how the goverment spends my money on useless crap instead of trying to make fewer enemies by not being so heavy-handed with the rest of the world.
    • instead, they'll just detonate the bomb when there's an excessive amount interference

      As far as these people are concerned, that's fine. The radius of interference exceeds the radius of destruction of the expected explosives; if Shrub's anti-mobile-phone field triggers an explosion while he's driving around, he's still a safe distance away.

      Remember, this isn't about making sure that people can't detonate explosives -- if someone simply wants to detonate some explosives, they don't need a cell phone to tr
  • by csoto ( 220540 ) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @10:01AM (#9166624)
    Which of these is a far more likely risk factor?

    1) Terrorists using cell phones to detonate bombs (which can be done with a simple mechanical timer far more easily)
    2) Fire, heart attack, drowning, etc. wherein using a cell phone to dial 911 could save lives?

  • by mdwh2 ( 535323 ) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @10:01AM (#9166628) Journal
    It's all very well trying to make it look a balance between public safety and public convenience, but I can't help feeling that if you or I did this sort of thing, we wouldn't be charged with being a nuisance to "public convenience", but quite probably under some terrorism law?

    It's very debateable whether the possible loss of life due to disruption to emergency services and the general terror and panic caused to the public is less than the possible lives saved (which requires both that there is a terrorist attack going to happen, and that they are reliant on mobile phones).

    Of course, everyone bending over backwards to ensure Bush's safety is nothing new. When he visits the UK, it costs the British taxpayer $8.5 million [cnn.com] for security (meanwhile, UK visitors to the US can look forward to such fun as photographing and fingerprinting, but that's another story).
  • by warm sushi ( 168223 ) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @10:05AM (#9166648)

    This is somewhat like banning cars from an area. Sure, cars are a convenient way to move people, but hey, it could also be used as a delivery mechanism for an explosive!

    Hasn't anyone in America clued up to the idea that 99% of the impact of Terrorism is exploiting FUD? In allowing the freaky controlling elements of society to make life impossible for the rest of the sane people, don't you lose so much more?

    And don't give me that "if we can save just one life" crap. If that's the case then ban cigarettes, alcohol and McDonalds. Hell, ban religion and guns while you're at it.

    For goodness sake! Stop letting the terrorists run your lives for you! They're winning! Wake up!

  • by John Seminal ( 698722 ) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @10:05AM (#9166653) Journal
    "The FCC rules are clear," said Travis Larson, spokesman for the international Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association. "Jamming is illegal, but whether there is an exception made for law enforcement is a decision the FCC will have to make."

    While I think most people will agree that jammers are okay to stop terrorists from blowing things up, I don't like the idea of all police having access to this. It seems to be the slippery slope. There is a valid function for this, but then it gets extended and extended. I say leave it to the air force, if there is a need they can fly a plane over the area and block everything. Then afterwards they will have to explain. Don't give it to the police, where 1000's of departments and chiefs of police might decide for themselves when and how to use it. Plus, everyone has heard stories of bad apples in police departments. The last thing they need is a method to shut down communications.

    • Consider that many cell phones include cameras. Authorities might want to minimized negative publicity photographs or videos being transmitted the next time something like Kent State happens. Jam the cell phone spectrum and then confiscate all phones from people in the area as evidence.

      There was an article on Salon about how everyone can be a photographer now. How we can get much closer to wars and protests because it is more difficult for authorities to corral an ordinary person with a mobile phone than i
  • by bishiraver ( 707931 ) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @10:12AM (#9166673) Homepage
    A high school near my home, which a friend of mine used to attend, used some kind of cell phone jammer because of the issues they were having with students answering phones during class time. It was rather annoying when I needed to use my cell phone on their campus at an after school function (awards ceremony).
  • by painehope ( 580569 ) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @10:15AM (#9166684)
    the hell with the president...I say we start putting these things in SUVs and Lexuses ( Lexi? ).

    No more soccer moms meandering all over the road, screaming at their kids and yapping on their cellphones!
  • Sometimes security people appear so clueless that you begin to think that it must be an act.

    Then you discover that they are perfectly serious - it's just that they have zero imagination. They cannot imagine a novel threat mechanism and so assume that nobody else could.

    I would guess that 110% of new "security" spending in the US is wasted money as it's targetted at old threats.
  • by xyote ( 598794 ) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @10:34AM (#9166773)
    Ringing cell phones as they enter or are turned on in a security zone. Having a bomb blow up as you try to activate it tends to discourage that kind of activity.

    Of course, bomb makers could just put in a manual switch in series with the ringer detonation circuit to wait until the ring before activating that part of the mechanism. Unless there was some kind of random delay before the ring and/or a second ring at random. Add in unpreditability so safetly activating the detonation mechanism becomes unsafe.

    Other things to do would be to make the ring circuit only work if the correct impedence was detected. You could get around that but then making bomb denotators would not be an off the shelf solution.

  • Video-guided bombs will be trivial to implement as video camera-phones become available. I believe that this is the real threat -- they're just softening up the populace with the current jamming.

    Thad
  • So, the government impeding on their use isn't any violation of anything, except violating good manners.

    Now when they stop people from speaking, then we have a problem. But a cell-phone restriction? Is that all you people can find today to bash Bush on and express your ludicrous unwarranted hatred?

  • Under law, the importation, sale or use of cell-phone jammers is banned in the United States and can result in Federal Communications Commission fines of up to $11,000 daily per device. An FCC spokesperson said the fines have been levied against people for not holding a license to use the devices.

    Casinos use jammers to prevent people from cheating using cell phones and some federal law enforcement agencies use the equipment during hostage situations.

    I can probably concede to the secret service using

  • when the Prez rolls around. They don't jam them.

  • "Public safety is more important than public convenience."

    FWEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!

    False dichotomy.
    On the offense.
    10 sentences back from the original argument.
    Still first down.

    FWEEEEEEEEEEEEEP!
  • Bereft of Reason (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ThisIsFred ( 705426 ) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @11:18AM (#9167062) Journal
    Obviously inspired by Hollywood. So what if they decide to use the frequency that the Secret Service uses to communicate? I guess we better block that too. What if they broadcast a codeword on a talk radio show, and a bomb-laden terrorist is listening on a portable AM radio. Better block that band too. So, to cover all the possible frequencies, it'd have to be one heck of a powerful broadband jammer. I guess that's going to interfere with adjacent police and rescue frequencies because of intermod.

    Look folks, Al Qaeda didn't use cellphone-triggered remote bombs, tunnels under schools, IRC, or even orbiting brain-lasers, or whatever stupid possibility has been dreamed of by the Department of Paranoia. They used box-cutters. I'm fairly certain that whatever choice they make next is going to be a surprise. It's not going to be something that the US Gov't expects, so let's stop trying to list the millions of possible ways and monitor the thousands of possible targets.

    I really wish the hype and paranoia would stop. I used to listen to ("conservative") radio host Monica Crowley, until one night she bleated like a sheep stuck in a fence for an hour about how "we should do everything possible" in regard to airport security. I mean, come on Monica, that's something a 7th grader would say. There's a balance between cost and safety, and nobody in her right mind would suggest spending an unlimited amount of public funds just to make sure we can catch someone who has a box-cutter, because there's a one in a billion chance he might want to also fly an airliner into a building.

    Likewise we have El Rushbo, trumpeting that the fact we haven't had an Al Qaeda attack on US soil for one and a half years is proof positive that Bush's strategy is working. As much as I'd like to believe that, the fact is that it costs Al Qaeda money and takes lots of time to plan an act on US soil. The second WTC attack happened almost 8 years after the first. The attacks aren't likely going to stop as long as we're involved in the Mid-East (as long as we back Israel and pull the strings for the Saudi monarchy).

    So once again, it's not a choice with absolutes. Either we continue our current policy and some of us get killed every ten years or so, or we trade some other lives for our own, and watch the slaughter of the Jews, the Kurds, or some other religious minority that is sufficiently westernized to perhaps believe in freedom, interest on money, rights for women, or perhaps not stoning people to death for breaking society's rules. Or, we pick something inbetween, and successive presidents jump to either side of the fence (like the case now). One thing I can be sure of is that some US citizens are going to have a shot at stopping the next attack, just like the last one. So maybe this time we won't behave like subservient little hoplophobic sheep, and someone will fight back with deadly force to spare the lives of others.
  • No RF Needed (Score:4, Interesting)

    by faqmaster ( 172770 ) <jones.tmNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Sunday May 16, 2004 @11:25AM (#9167106) Homepage Journal
    The cell phones used in the Madrid bobmings were used for their timers. That's why they found one undetonated bomb, the clock read PM instead of AM. None of the bombs were detonated via recieving a call.
  • ever since we put police on every corner of the street,
    ever since one left-alone box is suspicious and might be a bom instead of a box,
    ever since cellphones have to be blocked,
    ever since people are affraid to get on a train,

    ever since terrorists don't have to do anything to disrupt my normal life, they have already won.
  • Rather tha Jamming: (Score:5, Interesting)

    by R.Caley ( 126968 ) on Sunday May 16, 2004 @12:23PM (#9167431)
    I read, I think in New Scientist, a proposal that rather than jam the wavelengths, the correct thing to do is set up a local cell which is strong enough to make all the cellphopnes in the area bind to it.

    Eg in a theatre, the cell could act as a normal relay outside performance times, but suddenly become a black hole when the performance starts. (obviously it has to pretend still to be working, or the phones will just use another cell)

    Such a system could allow emergency calls while blocking anything else.

"I'm not a god, I was misquoted." -- Lister, Red Dwarf

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