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France to Allow Cell Phone Jamming 866

ZuperDee writes "According to this article, the French industry minister has approved a decision to allow cinemas, concert halls and theaters to install cell phone jammers, on the condition that emergency calls can still get through."
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France to Allow Cell Phone Jamming

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  • Emergency Calls? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SultanCemil ( 722533 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @05:16AM (#10501390)
    How do they allow emergency calls through? Aren't most cell jammers simply frequency based white noise generators?
    • by LiquidCoooled ( 634315 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @05:18AM (#10501399) Homepage Journal
      I think thats the icing on the cake.

      Being able to say "Yer sure" and not mean it all in the same breath.

      Those wanting to block calls sort of get their way, and those who don't want it blocking get to smile as well.

      I think this is the best all round decision.
    • Re:Emergency Calls? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by mmonkey ( 709004 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @05:20AM (#10501407)
      I'm just guessing here, but maybe they could have an on-site picocell or something which the phones will associate with, and then control which calls the cell lets through? Just a thought.
    • Re:Emergency Calls? (Score:5, Informative)

      by famebait ( 450028 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @05:26AM (#10501439)
      No, GSM jammers of this type work by impersonating the local base stations by responding before them, but not actually letting anything through.

      The systems have been available for a few years,
      and are apparently very good at blocking out only a well defined area. The stumbling blocks have been entirely legal/regulatory.

      I don't know if the available equipment handles it already, but there is no technical reason why the jammer couldn't engage slightly more thoroughly in the transaction and forward select calls.
      • by Red Pointy Tail ( 127601 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @06:35AM (#10501683)

        If this is implemented and my phone ever jangles 2 hours into a movie, I'll probably piss in panic first.
      • Re:Emergency Calls? (Score:5, Informative)

        by hyc ( 241590 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @07:18AM (#10501845) Homepage Journal
        There's actually two factors at work here - digital cell phones attenuate their transmit power level based on the strength of the signal they receive. The theory is that if they are receiving a strong signal from a cell tower, they must be very near it physically, so they don't need to use as much power to transmit and be heard by the tower. So the first thing they do is set up a local base station; all the phones will lock in on it because it is the strongest signal around, and they will all reduce their transmit power because the local signal is so strong. So this automatically means your phone will only use the local base station, no other cell towers will be able to hear the weak signal your phones will be putting out.

        The region being affected is easily controlled using directional antennas. Most cell towers already use a 120 degree beam spread, so directional antennas are the usual already, but they can certainly use a narrower beam antenna if they want.

        As for routing emergency calls, again, the network tells the phone what the phone is allowed to do. No problem there...
        • Re:Emergency Calls? (Score:4, Informative)

          by famebait ( 450028 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @07:30AM (#10501898)
          You can control the affected area even more precisely than that: if you have two or more antennas, you could triangulate the position of a phone and choose whether to service it or not based on its position. Meaning that you can literally draw your block-zone on the map and when you step outside that invisible line, your phone works. (Not sure they actually do, but it's certainly possible.

          This also means you don't have to drown out any other transmitters, you can just play man-in the middle: you know which phones are in your zone, if a tower tries to contat it, you say you're it, but can't answer. If a phone tries to contact a tower, you pretend you're it an denies service. All you have to do is be first.

          Combined, you have a very robust soloution with a well-defined virtual cage that is "invisible" from the outside but completely "dark" on the inside.
    • Re:Emergency Calls? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Vellmont ( 569020 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @05:31AM (#10501463) Homepage
      The only thing that comes to mind is having a special node at the theatre thats essentially a repeater (but doesn't ring the phone or allow outgoing calls to be made). Calls to anyone with a phone from a certain prefix or list of numbers (given to any emergency responders) is allowed through. Think of it like a cell-phone firewall.

      If that's how they're planning on doing it I don't know. But there has to be some way of distinguishing emergency calls, or emergency cell phones from normal everyday calls/phones.
    • I REALLY WONDER (Score:5, Insightful)

      by imsabbel ( 611519 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @05:37AM (#10501498)
      how everybody was able to survive 10 years ago, when NOBODY had a cell phone in the cinema or on a concert...
      • by mikael ( 484 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @06:59AM (#10501763)
        how everybody was able to survive 10 years ago, when NOBODY had a cell phone in the cinema or on a concert...

        Emergency service workers like doctors, anaesthetists and consultants had pagers. This device would allow simple text messages to be received (if not just a telephone number), and could be set to vibrate rather than play a polyphonic tune at 120 decibels.

        I think I may have seen one in a museum, but that was a long time ago...
  • by luvirini ( 753157 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @05:20AM (#10501406)
    I have been to many theater preformances where suddenly in the middle there is some totally unsuitable melody ringing from the mobile phone of someone sitting nearby.

    For me atleast it causes a loss of the "magic" that I get from a good preformance and thus it really affects the overall impression.

    Like once in middle of a serious scene there were double mobilephone rings with some really annoying happy tunes at highest possible volume. If I had been armed at the moment there might have been two extra bodies...

    • I propose a low-tech solution. Warn people that they will be trown out if their mobile rings. Enforce.
      • by Technician ( 215283 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @09:44AM (#10502759)
        My old boss told me of a pub he visited. The policy was to leave the outside behind. Right beside the door was a cell phone nailed to the wall with a very large nail. The message was clear. If your phone rings, it goes next to the first one.
      • by pla ( 258480 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @09:51AM (#10502811) Journal
        I propose a low-tech solution. Warn people that they will be trown out if their mobile rings. Enforce.

        I've gone to a number of live performances that do something very much like this...

        I've heard a number of variations, and seen them carried out about half the time (just the threat helps remind people to act civilized and turn the damned things off)... My favorite (at a play), the entire cast just stopped in mid-sentence, all turned toward the idiot with the ringing phone, and the main actor on stage asked him to answer it, insisting over rude-boy's mumbled apologies, that he please go ahead, take his call, all the rest of us would wait politely.

        I have never seen another human turn that shade of red.

        Most importantly, about six seconds later (you could almost hear the cogs turning in peoples' heads), a wave of soft little clicks and low bleeps moved across the theatre as all the other potential rude-idiots-that-ignored-the-initial-warning turned off their phones. Truly beautiful.

        Who needs technology when plain ol' public humiliation will work? Unfortunately, most for-pay venues don't have the balls to carry through on threats like that.
  • It will be a short hop from here to allowing any business the right to install a cell-phone jammer. Restuarants and certain cafes in the Latin Quarter will jump at the chance to push out that vile modern convenience.

    Pretty soon, we will see little icons in windows:
    *WiFi ici!
    *cell non!
    • Personally there are times I would welome this too, as long as there are clear signs at the doors telling about it. So i would not go to such a place if I needed to be reachable, but would go if I need to relax without the disturbances they cause.
  • Yes! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by caitsith01 ( 606117 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @05:24AM (#10501428) Journal
    Eat it connectivity junkies! The rebellion has begun!

    Seriously though... who REALLY needs to be contacted IMMEDIATELY 24-7? I would suggest that if you are really that important, you might want to skip the movie and stay in the Oval Office doing your job.

    And if a friend or relative is dead or dying, well, if it takes until the end of the movie for you to find out, they'll be just as dead after as they were during. Plus you will have had an extra 2 hours of Matt Damon (or Gerard Depardieu?) induced happiness before the terrible news reaches you.

    Basically anything that reduces our addiction to instant satisfaction of our every wish is ok with me. We don't NEED to be hooked up to a communication network all the time. They should also install these things in:

    - university lecture theatres
    - conferences
    - crowded public transport
    - you could have one in your house to turn on during mealtimes and other gatherings to encourage actual social interaction with people who are physically present
    • Re:Yes! (Score:5, Funny)

      by quetzalc0atl ( 722663 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @05:30AM (#10501460)
      >Seriously though... who REALLY needs to be contacted IMMEDIATELY 24-7?

    • How about emergency personnel, such as EMTs and Firemen? I'm from a rural area, where these people work on a voluntary basis. They get paid per call, so they have "normal" lives, they just get called in for emergencies. There's noone sitting in an office 24/7 just in case something happens, other than the person to relay the calls to the actual workers.

      A buddy of mine who is a volunteer fireman has a pager at all times. I've seen him have to take off from all sorts of situations to respond to calls. That w
      • Yeah, but these people are special cases, and special cases can be dealt with individually. As you already noted, pagers are a very good solution, and firemen and other action heroes can wear them all the time on the silent-vibrate function as a matter of course. These people could also get CDMA phones so that they are not on the GSM network like ordinary phone-abusers.

        I would still be overjoyed if that non-fireman fucktard three rows in front of me couldn't discuss the weather with his buddy while I'm wat
  • by tod_miller ( 792541 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @05:25AM (#10501432) Journal
    Instead of education.

    This will not stop idiots who have a 50,000 ansi lumens bright display playing some dumb-ass mobile game right in the corner of your eye when watching a movie (wtf, why did they go to the cinema?)

    Also, those stupid giggly-bitches who laugh/scream/cry at the dumbest of moments, or who have not left the house for months on end, and the cinema is their biggest social event, and they catch up on all the gossip until about 10 minutes into the start of the film, at which point the hushes from other cinema goers has long since drowned out thier mind numbing dialogue.

    The worst, when the stupid do not use your mobile advert comes on (Orange has some great ones - but trigger happy tv should be commissioned to do them worldwide) people take out thier mobile, check for messages, and then slide them back, not even switching them.

    Or if they are on silent, they bloody answer them and talk in that hushed-shouting whisper that is actually about 50 decibels above normal talking.

    Using technology to enforce peoples social awareness is lame. Just make it legal to hit them repeatedly with a length of lead piping until they learn.
    • Or if they are on silent, they bloody answer them and talk in that hushed-shouting whisper that is actually about 50 decibels above normal talking.

      That's some fierce punk-rock concert whispering...

      -- n
    • by gidds ( 56397 ) <{ku.em.sddig} {ta} {todhsals}> on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @07:59AM (#10502029) Homepage
      Exactly. If the problem is inconsiderate and antisocial behaviour, then fight inconsiderate and antisocial behaviour!

      This is exactly comparable to the current fuss about P2P software. Mobile phones have perfectly legitimate and non-infringing uses. (SMS messages, for example. Genuine life-or-death emergencies. Incoming calls where the user doesn't speak, or leaves the cinema before speaking.) Jamming prevents all those, whilst still allowing all the antisocial behaviour people have the rudeness to pull off!

      A jammer is just a tool for management too cowardly to enforce a proper nuisance policy.

      And of course, this is the thin end of the wedge. If jammers become accepted in cinemas, theatres and churches, they may well spread to restaurants, galleries, museums, shops, cafés, pubs, stations, workplaces...

      What's worse is that in this case there is a possible technological measure that would do pretty much what people want. Instead of jamming the phones, how about a short-range transmitter which told the phones to go into 'silent mode', turning off the ringtone, and maybe the microphone, whilst still allowing vibrating alerts, text messages, and maybe incoming calls. It's a bit more technology than phones currently have, but it can't be too hard to implement.

  • by jolyonr ( 560227 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @05:32AM (#10501470) Homepage
    The best way to do this is to jam at the network level. Rather than having a jammer installed in these places, you actually get the networks to install a short-range cell transmitter/receiver in the building (would need to be carefully placed). The network would control this, so that when a phone is connected via that cell, incoming calls won't get connected (except with operator intervention, so that emergency call you're worried about will get through), but emergency calls can still be made.

    In places where there are a great number of cells already, it may even be possible for the networks to triangulate positions, and stop reception of non-emergency calls when they can see that the cellphone is currently within an area on their 'quiet' list.

    Best of all (for the networks), they get to be in control and charge for the service.


    ps. Somebody print this out and keep it in the Prior Art folder just incase someone tries to get rich :)
  • A great idea. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by neuro.slug ( 628600 ) <`moc.liamtoh' `ta' `__oruen'> on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @05:40AM (#10501512)
    I can tolerate a mobile phone going off in a movie theater, but I shall bring down fiery justice on those who leave their bloody phones on during a live performance. There has to be intervention when people don't have the decency to turn off their damned phones during a classical performance, an opera, or a play. It's not only rude to the audience, but it's also insulting to the performers.

    -- n
  • by Enoch Root ( 57473 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @05:51AM (#10501552)
    I live in Shanghai and I don't even bother turning off my cellphone when I go to the movies. Why should I? Nobody does it. Not only that, but if the movie is really exciting, they won't even pick it up until the really exciting part is over. And when they do, they'll walk to the back of the theater and speak on the phone from there, yelling so they can be heard above the noise of the movie.

    Unfortunately, even if they DID install scramblers, it wouldn't prevent all the people from explaining the movie to their neighbors. Sigh. :)
  • by mccalli ( 323026 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @06:24AM (#10501639) Homepage
    I keep my phone on the cinema, but on silent. My reason is simple - I have kids, and if the babysitter needs to contact me for an emergency I don't want them to have to wait until after the film. Silent is the compromise - it still vibrates to let me know of the call, and I can leave the room to take it.

    This system would block the sitter's call to me, yet that is no less valid as an emergency than a 999 call is.

    Nope - I'd like to be in favour of a tech. solution to this problem, but the difficulty in knowing what's important and what isn't cannot be surmounted by base-station filtering. The only answer is just to throw the offenders out.


  • Here in Denmark ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by zonix ( 592337 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @06:45AM (#10501717) Homepage Journal

    In (most) Danish cinemas, just after the trailers and before the movie starts, there's a little funny reminder for people who forgot to turn off or silence their mobiles. It's actually a commercial - a joint effort by various mobile phone service providers.

    The lights are dimmed and the screen is completely black. Suddenly a phone rings in some corner of the cinema, only it's not a phone, it's actually coming from the surround sound speakers. One of the commercials has one of those annoyoing teenage girls answering the phone - you know, the kind who is blabbering on and on about everything with one of her friends. :-)

    It's very humerous and convincing at the same time. Of course in the end the reminder on the screen tells you to turn of the phone.

    IMO, this is great way to handle the issue.

  • by TheLoneCabbage ( 323135 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @06:54AM (#10501744) Homepage

    Here's something you won't read too often on /.

    #1 pet-peve on a date, just short of picking your nose, is picking up a cell phone.

    I take my phone with me, and it goes OFF the second I am within talking distance of my date. If it goes back on again, that means I'm more concerned about a random friend asking me (for the 50th time) what sites are best for downloading mp3s, than I am in the flow of our conversation.

    Is there anything more uncomfortable than to be mid-stride in conversation, and having that blasted ring interupt. So now she's giving driving directions to a friend and your picking at your food. (or your nose, as at this point it's a lost cause)

    So help me, if that phone rings it better be your family priest/rabbi/immam telling you that your mother/brother/father/sister/dog is dieing.

    Now that I think about it, I don't want a portable jammer with me on a date. I want to know as soon as possible that the womman is a classless waste of my time.

    Here's a better idea though. Let's install electroshock devices on cell phones, that are like that video game James Bond (Sean Connery) played in "Never Say Never Again". When you start talking it's all good, but as time passes the voltage/pain goes up. If the conversation isn't worth having you hang up before you have to feel the pain of everyone else sitting near you.

  • Hmm... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Pakaran2 ( 138209 ) <windrunner&gmail,com> on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @06:55AM (#10501747)
    If you jam cell phones, won't that just lead to people shouting louder? Knowing most of the cell phone users I do, I can just picture...

    (Phone goes off) "Hello? ... Oh, hi, John, they have a cell phone jammer in here. JOHN, I SAID THEY HAVE A CELL PHONE JAMMER IN HERE. CAN YOU HEAR ME BETTER NOW? ... DAMMIT JOHN, EVERYONE IN THE THEATER IS STARING AT ME. ... YEAH, I'D LOVE TO MEET YOU FOR A BEER, BUT I'M IN THIS MOVIE FOR THE NEXT HALF HOUR. Oh, never mind, they just dragged me out by my shirt collar. ... Yeah, there's much better reception out here, where do you want to go?"
  • Excellent idea ! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TractorBarry ( 788340 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @07:51AM (#10501994) Homepage
    This is an excellent first step.

    Next I'd like to see the use of mobile phones being given the same social status as smoking i.e. not allowed in enclosed public places such as pubs, restaurants, theatres, buses etc. etc.

    If you want to make or receive calls you can go outside with the smokers. (Actually wait a minute I'm a smoker so fsck that, they'll have to have the other side of the entrance)

    In the case of trains there should be a single carriage in which you can send and receive calls.

    For fucks sake society functioned perfectly well before these intrusive, obnoxious devices. If I were to start carrying round a trumpet and intermittently playing it tunelessly and loudly then shouting away to myself I'd get arrested/battered pretty quickly.

    As usual its not the technologys fault but the fucking morons who are misusing it...

    Now what I'd really like is a portable, unobtrusive, mobile jammer that would put a 5 metre "Phone disruptor" screen around myself.
  • Necessity (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Tom ( 822 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @08:09AM (#10502093) Homepage Journal
    Very good. A step into the right direction.

    Funny coincidence, I've started shopping for a jammer today. Yesterday's train ride was the final drop. When will people learn that your private interest is not more important than the comfort of the 50 other people on the train?

    I would expect that people talking on the phone in a crowded, public place would at least have the basic courtesy of not speaking twice as loud as everyone else.

    And it's not like it's impossible or hard to do. I was in Tokyo last year, and while everyone there has a cell phone, I never, ever, found anyone using it in an obnoxious way. There were no loud rings, and people talking on the cell phone talked to quiet that they were no disturbance even to those standing nearby.

    All it takes is a little respect for your fellow humans.

    Until then, I want my jammer.
  • by kottos ( 792884 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @08:52AM (#10502382) Homepage
    I think that this is great. I'm a classically trained musician and a sound engineer so I spend a lot of time either performing or recording concerts. When I'm onstage, I'm already a bundle of nerves and have to concentrate like hell for fear of messing up. Whenever I hear a phone go off, it is very distracting. I can ignore it and carry on, but it does throw you for a moment. 99% of the time it won't result in any audible wobble, but if it happens at the wrong time it can throw you completely and you screw up bigtime. When I'm recording, it is even worse. Even if somebody has their phone on silent but are sitting close enough to some of the gear, you can get the lovely du-du-du-du, du-du-du-du, du-du-du-du-duuuuuuuuuu sound captured in your recording. Again, this happens very rarely, but when it does I have to be physically restrained... I also lecture at a university - whenever students use their phone in class, it shows a distinct lack of respect for me and for the other students, some of whom are finding it difficult enough to follow the course content as it is.
  • by erik_fredricks ( 446470 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @10:01AM (#10502885)
    Wow. They MAY actually be ahead of us in some respects.

    Sorry, but I'll repeat what's already been said here: if it's so $%&*ing important, take care of it elsewhere. You have no right to inflict your lack of courtesy on others.

    The last time I went to see the Emerson Quartet perform in Atlanta (which has the rudest audiences I've ever seen), the whole experience was repeatedly interrupted by ringing and "hushed" conversations. It screwed up the audience's (and worse) the performers' concentration and made the whole performance an excercise in frustration. I paid sixty bucks--I deserve to enjoy it.
  • by Guppy06 ( 410832 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @11:19AM (#10503545)
    1. Vibrate--Nobody else should ever know that your cell phone is ringing, ever.
    2. Caller ID--If the call isn't from a number that you know a truly important call would be coming from, don't answer it. For paranoid parents, if the call isn't from your home number, it's not the babysitter.
    3. Voicemail--If it's important, they'll leave voicemail. If you're really that freakin' curious, you can check your voicemail without anybody else in the room knowing you're listening to your voicemail (don't talk, just push buttons).

    Am I the only person to figure this chain out?
  • 411 on the 911 (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Tuesday October 12, 2004 @12:11PM (#10504008) Homepage Journal
    This rule is a great boon not only for silencing the cellphone yahoos that I routinely eject, physically, from movie theaters here in NYC. It also creates a new class of incoming emergency calls. Now the State is no longer the only entity privileged to receive emergency calls.

    Of course, we're all paying jacked up prices to the State for "911" service, most of which is sucked out to pay for other pork^Wnecessary projects. Incoming emergency calls should cost $5:call, covered by the recipient's insurance in the event of an actual emergency.

    Even these calls shouldn't just ring out publicly in the venue. One person's emergency is another person's irritating conversation about whether to pick up a loaf of bread on the way home. All these jammers ought to set all phones to silent/vibrate, and allow emergency calls to vibrate for 30 seconds, then ring out loud for another 30s if unanswered at first. If the call is about groceries, maybe their insurance will cover them when I "help them out of their seats" to tend their "emergency".

In the realm of scientific observation, luck is granted only to those who are prepared. - Louis Pasteur