There’s been this ongoing debate about whether it is lawful to jam cell phone signals in jails and prisons across the United States. It turns out that people are sneaking prepaid cell phones into jails and the prisoners are using them to communicate with the outside world without permission.
Rather than try to figure out how to stop the contraband from getting in, the people running the prisons wanted to use cell phone jamming technology so that the handsets wouldn’t work within the prison walls. This sounded like a decent idea, but civilians living in the vicinity of jails were concerned that their phones would be jammed too.
Well, the long and the short of it is that the US Senate has indeed approved the use of cell phone jammers in jails and prisons. The Safe Prisons Communications Act of 2009 allows the FBI and state governors to block cellular signals inside prisons.
The caveat is that the prisons cannot use these jamming devices to interfere with legitimate communications in the area. In applying to the FCC, they’ll need to be very specific with where and how the signals will be blocked.
In the meantime, the bill still needs to be ratified by the House and signed by President Obama, so I guess they still have time to iron out some details.