Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Telecommunications companies oppose jamming of prisoner cell phones

The NBC Today show reported on Tuesday, May 12, 2009, that prisoners have been getting access to cell phones and sometimes planning crimes from prison, including identity theft and, in a few cases in Maryland and South Carolina, at least, hits on people who had testified against them.

Co-conspirators throw pigskin footballs across prison walls with cell phones inside, or even shoot bazookas. Outdoor prisoners scarf them up when guards aren’t watching. Prisoners get to be like McGwyvers and dissemble phones and hide them in cells before inspections.

Prisoners seem to be able to get and keep accounts despite cell phone company terms of service.

The media asks the fair question, why not just jam them. A federal law passed in the 1930s prevents jamming of prisons. The cell phone industry has opposed repealing the law, saying that jamming would affect nearby neighborhoods. Experts say, no, jamming can be done now in a very precise way, much as movie theaters do it. Walky-talkies would continue to work.

The MSNBC link did not seem to be up yet as of early Tuesday.

Matthew Lasar had written an article for ArsTechnica reporting that the Federal Communications Commission had nixed a phone jamming demonstration in one of the District of Columbia’s jails, here (Feb 20, 2009).

Sacramento Station KCRA has a similar story for California, April 14, 2009.

And there is a similar story from Baltimore ABC affiliate Channel 2 here by Kuren Redmond.

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