The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued a $34.9 million fine against a Chinese firm it says is selling illegal phone-jamming equipment to US consumers.
The FCC said that it is seeking the penalties against Shenzen-based C.T.S. Technology, and has issued a cease-and-desist order halting sales in the US and demanded a list of individuals who purchased phone jammers from the company.
The Commission said that the fine was a culmination of 285 individual penalties, one for each model the FCC alleges the company had made available to US consumers over the last two years.
According to the FCC, the company has been falsely claiming that its signal jammers were approved by the FCC, and had at one point sold 10 signal-jamming units to undercover FCC personnel.
"All companies, whether domestic or foreign, are banned from marketing illegal jammers in the US," said FCC enforcement Bureau acting chief Travis LeBlanc.
"Signal jammers present a direct danger to public safety, potentially blocking the communications of first responders," LeBlanc said. "Operating a jammer is also illegal, and consumers who do so face significant civil and criminal penalties."
The commission noted that members of the general public are not allowed to import or use phone jammers under any circumstances, though some law enforcement agencies are allowed to operate them in "very limited circumstances."
The fines are the latest in a series of penalties the FCC has handed down in recent months. Earlier this year, the Commission issued a $48,000 penalty against a Florida man who used a signal jammer to keep nearby drivers off their phones during his daily commute, and a $29,000 fine against a company that jammed employee handsets in a factory.
The FCC said that the fines are primarily a public safety measure, as users whose phones are jammed would be unable to contact emergency services if needed. ®