NBC finds RF jammers sold illegally online

A report by NBC News says online retailers and drone technology companies are marketing the sale of radio frequency jammers as drone deterrence or privacy tools, sidestepping laws that prohibit such devices from being offered for sale in the US. 

A warning published by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) says signal jamming devices can prevent emergency calls and pose serious risks to public safety communications, as well as interfere with other forms of day-to-day communications and air navigation systems.

“The use of a phone jammer, GPS blocker, or other signal jamming device designed to intentionally block, jam, or interfere with authorised radio communications is a violation of federal law,” FCC says. “There are no exemptions for use within a business, classroom, residence, or vehicle. Local law enforcement agencies do not have independent authority to use jamming equipment; in certain limited exceptions use by federal law enforcement agencies is authorised in accordance with applicable statutes.”

FCC’s warning also states that it is “unlawful to advertise, sell, distribute, import, or otherwise market jamming devices to consumers in the United States”.

But NBC reports that Amazon third-party sellers, separate online stores based in China, and small domestic companies that specialise in drone-related equipment are ignoring this law. FCC told NBC that the commission is investigating jammer sales, including those on Amazon.

As part of its investigation, NBC spoke to the CEO of a US-based company that offers a portable anti-drone RF jamming unit online. The CEO told NBC that the devices were easy to obtain if consumers had the money, but that they mostly saw interest from large corporations and government agencies who are looking to prepare for domestic drone terrorism.

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