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Legality of Global Jammers

high powered cell phone jammer

Techniques to intentionally interfere with electromagnetic frequencies have been implemented in a variety of devices that are increasingly being made available to groups and organizations. While some jammers block communications indiscriminately, there are several types of specialized devices designed to block certain signals. Among the most popular are cell phone jammers, wifi signal jammers, drone jammers, and even GPS jammers.

A key reason why authorities in most countries disapprove of the use of these devices is that their impact is often greater than expected. Even well-intentioned uses, such as preventing schools, theaters, and hospitals from using cell phones, or preventing drones from flying over public property, can incur damage beyond expected boundaries. Dropped 911 calls, unexpected drones, and compromised air traffic control are some of the unintended consequences of jammers that have led countries like South Africa and Israel to fully legalize them.

Another reason is that the authorities want to preserve exclusive control over the use of these measures for law enforcement, security and military purposes. The United States, Canada, and India are examples of countries where jammers are banned for everyone, with the exception of certain law enforcement agencies. Italy goes a step further, and even these agencies can only operate jammers under certain authorizations. In Pakistan, Singapore, and Iran, jammers are legal only to those with licenses, which one can assume is not easy for non-government entities to obtain. This is not to say that rules always make sense. In the UK it is legal to have but not to use a mobile phone jammer.

Is there a place to use a jammer?
Jammers are often used around prisons and detention centers to prevent prisoners and detainees from shutting down unauthorized and unmonitored communications with the outside world. Brazil, India, New Zealand and Sweden are countries that have exempted or are considering exempting cellphones and Wifi jammers around prisons, while in the UK it has been legal since 2012.

However, some countries have allowed or proposed to expand the use of jammers. In India, for example, there are rules for the use of jammers in schools, mosques and theatres, provided it can be demonstrated that the disturbance does not go beyond the walls. Jammers were also approved for use in venues such as theaters and concert venues for a short period of time, but that ended in 2012.

So what should you do if you end up legally owning a cell phone jammer? You can think about booking your next flight to… Ukraine. It is one of the few countries in the world where jammers can be used legally, thanks to a government move to avoid cheating on exams using mobile phones.