Commuters shouting into their mobiles? Just jam 'em

There's just one problem. It's illegal


No such questions are suggested at PhoneJammer where the devices are sold. Instead, it explains how useful its products are - and at prices around £2,000 - for major projects like preventing phone calls in cinemas and theatres and churches:

Introducing the ultra high power phone jammer, the most sophisticated digital cell phone jammer of its class, with tough die-cast aluminium casing and dual inter cooler, ideal for large to hall type rooms or outdoor locations (high gain base station type antenna supplied).

I'm not saying such devices aren't available. Actually, I wouldn't even try to pretend I think they aren't in use. I happen to know a cinema not far from here where, mysteriously, car alarms won't work in the car park behind the theatres, and while they do ask patrons to switch their phones off, I've yet to hear one ring. Perhaps the patrons are all saintly?

Perhaps not. Our silent but deadly social villain tells a lovely story about how he arrived at a party in an unnamed location, furious about having his train journey ruined by someone talking... (why?) and was furtively led to one side:

'You need a jammer.' With a nod and a wink, I followed the dapper man to the outer edges of the party and he began to explain. He commutes from somewhere Midlands-ish to somewhere Birmingham-ish. When an annoying fellow commuter begins to prattle, he simply flicks a switch and the prattling ceases.

How seriously should we take this James Bond narrative?

Well, in one sense, entirely seriously. The devices do exist; and prices don't have to be measured in the thousands, or even the hundreds. There are toys which cost £50 ($100) and will knock out phone conversations within five yards. And you can order them.

Which leads us to the mystery: why Rudd made such a big fuss about the problems of finding suppliers. It's really not a problem and Google will point you at dozens of suppliers - but the humourist (perhaps) made him go on about how he broke the unspoken code of jammers, by asking to speak on the record. And after that, he laments, nobody would tell him anything. Including where to find one...

OK, back to the spy review, and maybe we can find what the real problem is. The real problem might just be "does it work?"

That's the problem with buying illegal products. You send your credit card or PayPal details; and you get a little black box in the post. Written on the side is "Phone Jammer" and inside the box is a Japlish instruction manual which says: "Press button B" and, well, that's that.

You press button B. The conversation which is so irritating your sensitive little soul, continues unabated. Your jammer: is it under powered? not close enough? or... horrible thought! - have you been taken?

There's not a lot you can do if you have been, is there? What are you going to try - complain to Ofcom? I don't think so... Trading Standards? "I've bought this illegal product which is impossible to test without breaking the law, and I suspect it doesn't work..."? No, I think best not.

And, of course, there's the final ignominious possibility... that your jammer works just fine - but that the loud-mouthed person on the train is, in fact, an unemployed PR bunny who can't afford a real mobile phone right now, and is actually just making loud noises to impress fellow travellers.

Oh, yes, it does happen. You can actually buy dummy phones for that purpose. Just don't ask for your money back if they don't work, OK, yah? ®

Similar topics


Other stories you might like

  • India reveals home-grown server that won't worry the leading edge

    And a National Blockchain Strategy that calls for gov to host BaaS

    India's government has revealed a home-grown server design that is unlikely to threaten the pacesetters of high tech, but (it hopes) will attract domestic buyers and manufacturers and help to kickstart the nation's hardware industry.

    The "Rudra" design is a two-socket server that can run Intel's Cascade Lake Xeons. The machines are offered in 1U or 2U form factors, each at half-width. A pair of GPUs can be equipped, as can DDR4 RAM.

    Cascade Lake emerged in 2019 and has since been superseded by the Ice Lake architecture launched in April 2021. Indian authorities know Rudra is off the pace, and said a new design capable of supporting four GPUs is already in the works with a reveal planned for June 2022.

    Continue reading
  • Prisons transcribe private phone calls with inmates using speech-to-text AI

    Plus: A drug designed by machine learning algorithms to treat liver disease reaches human clinical trials and more

    In brief Prisons around the US are installing AI speech-to-text models to automatically transcribe conversations with inmates during their phone calls.

    A series of contracts and emails from eight different states revealed how Verus, an AI application developed by LEO Technologies and based on a speech-to-text system offered by Amazon, was used to eavesdrop on prisoners’ phone calls.

    In a sales pitch, LEO’s CEO James Sexton told officials working for a jail in Cook County, Illinois, that one of its customers in Calhoun County, Alabama, uses the software to protect prisons from getting sued, according to an investigation by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

    Continue reading
  • Battlefield 2042: Please don't be the death knell of the franchise, please don't be the death knell of the franchise

    Another terrible launch, but DICE is already working on improvements

    The RPG Greetings, traveller, and welcome back to The Register Plays Games, our monthly gaming column. Since the last edition on New World, we hit level cap and the "endgame". Around this time, item duping exploits became rife and every attempt Amazon Games made to fix it just broke something else. The post-level 60 "watermark" system for gear drops is also infuriating and tedious, but not something we were able to address in the column. So bear these things in mind if you were ever tempted. On that note, it's time to look at another newly released shit show – Battlefield 2042.

    I wanted to love Battlefield 2042, I really did. After the bum note of the first-person shooter (FPS) franchise's return to Second World War theatres with Battlefield V (2018), I stupidly assumed the next entry from EA-owned Swedish developer DICE would be a return to form. I was wrong.

    The multiplayer military FPS market is dominated by two forces: Activision's Call of Duty (COD) series and EA's Battlefield. Fans of each franchise are loyal to the point of zealotry with little crossover between player bases. Here's where I stand: COD jumped the shark with Modern Warfare 2 in 2009. It's flip-flopped from WW2 to present-day combat and back again, tried sci-fi, and even the Battle Royale trend with the free-to-play Call of Duty: Warzone (2020), which has been thoroughly ruined by hackers and developer inaction.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2021