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Cellphone Jammer
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"As cellphone use has skyrocketed, making it hard to avoid hearing half a conversation in many public places, a small but growing band of rebels is turning to a blunt countermeasure: the cellphone jammer, a gadget that renders nearby mobile devices impotent.
Using the jammers is illegal in the United States. The radio frequencies used by cellphone carriers are protected, just like those used by television and radio broadcasters.

The Federal Communication Commission says people who use cellphone jammers could be fined up to $11,000 for a first offense. Its enforcement bureau has prosecuted a handful of American companies for distributing the gadgets — and it also pursues their users."

The New York Times article goes on to describe counter measures--one of them a device to detect the jammers' signals, but the most telling argument for protecting cell phone users was, I think, that criminals could prevent victims from calling for help. The high tech equivalent of cutting the phone line, a plot device so dear to movie script writers. Maybe wire cutters should have been made illegal, so as to protect telephone users.

That said, I confess to a secret yearning for some such pocket-sized device to cut the noise. Just knowing I could have peace and quiet if I wanted it, would make a difference.

Yesterday in Trader Joe's I heard a mounting babble of human voices. When I looked around, there were seven, yes 7, people with cell phones jammed to their ears, all using their normal talk-across-the-room voices to inform friends, loved ones, enemies, children about car repairs, real estate deals, grocery lists (makes sense) and the end of true love.

Makes you want to cry, doesn't it?

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