Network World is reporting that a Florida man who installed a cellular telephone jammer in the back seat of his Toyota Highlander is facing $48,000 in fines levied by the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC alleges that one Jason R Humphreys of Seffner, FL regularly used the device during his daily commute and that he originally installed it more than two years ago. When questioned about his reasoning, Mr. Humphreys told officials that he installed the jammer in order to prevent people in the cars around him from using their cell phones while driving – something that is, by the way, totally legal in the state of Florida with or without a hands-free device.
The case first came to light when T-Mobile USA’s local carrier, a company called Mobile PCS, noticed problems with their towers over a 12 mile stretch of Interstate 4 between Seffner and Tampa. After finding that the interference seemed to coincide with the morning and evening commutes, Mobile PCS contacted the FCC who used direction finding equipment to identify the suspect’s blue Toyota Highlander. When Sherriff’s deputies approached the car, they found that their police radios ceased to work as well and, after a search of the vehicle, found the jamming device hidden beneath a seat cover in the back seat.
Cellular jammers are illegal to own, manufacture or import into the United States and the FCC has taken a hardline stance against their use. Mr. Humphrey’s fine technically covers two separate charges, one for use of an illegal device and another for causing intentional interference, and is being assessed for a single use of the device. Given the length of time he claims to have employed it, however, the fine could have gone as high as $337,000. He has 30 days to either pay up or file a response.