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Thursday, June 19, 2014

FCC Issues Largest Fine in History to Chinese Company Selling Signal Jammers

As reported by The Verge: The Federal Communications Commission is laying down its largest fine ever against a Chinese retailer that's allegedly been selling hundreds of models of illegal signal jammers over at least the past two years. The online retailer, CTS Technology, is being given a fine of $34.9 million, the maximum that the FCC can issue in this instance. 

Operating a signal jammer is illegal in the United States, as is selling and advertising them. Unfortunately for CTS Technology — which allegedly was brazen enough to claim that its jammers were FCC approved — it actually sold 10 units to FCC personnel.

The FCC takes the sale of jammers seriously because they can prevent people from making 911 or other emergency calls, in addition to preventing communication by law enforcement. "Signal jammers present a direct danger to public safety, potentially blocking the communications of first responders," Travis LeBlanc, acting chief of the FCC's enforcement bureau, says in a statement. CTS Technology's jammers were able to do far more than that: various models it sold were allegedly able to block cell signals, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, satellite radio, and GPS, among others. Certain models were even effective up to half a mile away. CTS Technology is said to currently have 285 models on sale.

The FCC realizes that it's easy for Americans to buy signal jammers like these online, and it seems to be trying to set an example here of why international companies should be careful about where they market their products. The FCC is also ordering CTS Technology to stop selling and marketing the devices to US consumers and to hand over information about parties in the US that it sold them to. CTS Technology will still have a chance to appeal the fine or petition for a reduction, otherwise it'll have to pay within 30 days.