American prisons are introducing signal jammers

Jamming cell phones and drones to prevent repeat crime

The renewed interest in jamming within federal facilities follows an announcement by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who told a national meeting of corrections officials that federal prisons would start testing the technology anew.

Department of Defense officials speaking to NBC News did not confirm if they lost any of the drones to crashes as a result of the signal jammer, but one official did say that the jamming is having an operational impact on military operations in Syria.

Even as cellphone jammers are freely available in the market, including on e-commerce platforms, the Union government has clarified that private sector organisations or private individuals cannot procure or use such devices in India. The Cabinet Secretariat on Thursday put up a ”cell phone signal jammer policy” on its website, saying norms have been evolved for procurement and use of jammers by states/Union territories, defence forces and the police.

Although the Indian Telegraph Act necessitates government permission before jamming any mobile or a network, sale and use of communication blocking devices have been on the rise. Many companies, individuals, libraries, and entertainment hubs are known to use jammers sold under various names across stores and websites. Internationally too, installing jammers by private parties is a tricky issue.According to the Federal Communications Commission, consumers cannot legally use jammers in the US nor can retailers lawfully sell them. But theatres, restaurants, schools and colleges often use jammers to block communication.

Statutory examination conducting bodies under the Central or state government are also permitted to block communication using ”low powered jammers”. This is to prevent unfair means during exams. But exam conducting bodies will have to take such devices on lease or rent from authorised public sector units, and not own them.

An overworked Army intelligence officer tracked the frequencies, and an equally overworked Navy electrical engineer matched them against 14 varieties of electronic jammer used by coalition forces. As new frequencies popped up, the updated MOASS was analyzed by the National Security Agency, by Navy electronic warfare specialists in Maryland and by Army specialists in New Jersey, which led to recommended adjustments in the jammer settings. Those modified “loadsets” were then e-mailed to U.S. military forces throughout Iraq so that the jammers could be reprogrammed.