Scammer Yammer-Jammers to Slammer?

tubular.jpgCell phone yakkers, beware: a new device threatens to level the logorrhea:

[An architect] sat down next to a 20-something woman who he said was “blabbing away” into her phone. “She was using the word ‘like’ all the time. She sounded like a Valley Girl,” said the architect, Andrew, who declined to give his last name because what he did next was illegal.

Andrew reached into his shirt pocket and pushed a button on a black device the size of a cigarette pack. It sent out a powerful radio signal that cut off the chatterer’s cellphone transmission — and any others in a 30-foot radius.

This reminded me a bit of the airplane “seat blocker,” which prevents the seat in front of you from reclining. As far as I recall, the FAA did little to prevent their sale, but the FCC is taking no chances with the yammer-jammer:

The Federal Communication Commission says people who use cellphone jammers could be fined up to $11,000 for a first offense. Its enforcement bureau has prosecuted a handful of American companies for distributing the gadgets — and it also pursues their users.

Investigators from the F.C.C. and Verizon Wireless visited an upscale restaurant in Maryland over the last year, the restaurant owner said. The owner, who declined to be named, said he bought a powerful jammer for $1,000 because he was tired of his employees focusing on their phones rather than customers.

If the restaurant owner were to give notice of the jamming to customers, I would find this a difficult property rights issue. Loud cell phone conversations remind me of the proverbial “sparks from a train” that had to either be prevented by railroads or avoided by owners of flammable material. Who should get the initial entitlement: the yellular or the silence-seeking?

Photo Credit: Jovike.

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