Business

FCC investigating Amazon for reportedly selling illegal radio jammers

Each offense of selling or using an illegal radio jamming device carries a fine of over $100,000, the FCC said.

Person holding a remote while a drone flies in the air.
Person holding a remote while a drone flies in the air.
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Equipment used to jam radio frequencies has long been banned by the Federal Communications Commission for public use and sale. The FCC now appears poised to investigate companies, including Amazon, for selling jamming devices. 

NBC News reported that Amazon was among several companies under investigation for allegedly selling devices that jam radio frequencies, including ones used to block drone signals or thwart home security devices. The FCC's announcement of an investigation came after NBC News reported that Amazon listed several such potentially illegal devices being sold by third-party companies. 

The FCC confirmed the investigation in a statement to Scripps News. 

“We have several ongoing investigations into retailers, including Amazon, for potential violations of Commission rules related to the marketing and sale of equipment without proper FCC authorization," said Will Wiquist, spokesperson for the FCC. 

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Scripps News has contacted Amazon for its response. 

The Communications Act of 1934 has a section that specifically says the sale of such devices violates the law. 

"Section 302(b) of the Act prohibits the manufacture, importation, sale, offer for sale, or operation of devices that do not comply with the equipment authorization rules," the rules said. "Jammers do not comply with the rules because they are designed to jam or disrupt authorized communications."

The FCC has even notified law enforcement agencies that local police are prohibited from using such devices.

Not only is it illegal to use or sell such devices, it is also illegal for them to be imported into the U.S. The FCC says those violating the rule can be punished with a fine of over $100,000 for each offense.

"Signal jamming devices can prevent you and others from making 911 and other emergency calls and pose serious risks to public safety communications, as well as interfere with other forms of day-to-day communications.

"The use of a phone jammer, GPS blocker, or other signal jamming device designed to intentionally block, jam, or interfere with authorized radio communications is a violation of federal law.  There are no exemptions for use within a business, classroom, residence, or vehicle," the FCC said.