By: Johnna Kerr, Director of Strategic Partnerships
An overview of jammers and the risks they pose
Originally developed for law enforcement and the military to interrupt communications by criminals and terrorists, jammers are receiving more global attention. With the increasing and evolving use of jammers for recreational and illegal purposes, a main concern for card networks, legal teams and law enforcement is the risk they pose to the general public if used incorrectly.
What are jammers?
Jammers are signal blockers that detect a radar source operating within a specific range. Once detected, the jammers begin sending out signals at the same frequency, colliding and cancelling each other out. If they are within wavelength, it causes the radar source to be jammed, showing no reading on the receiving end. These radio frequency devices work on a range of wireless networking devices including cell phones, police radar, GPS, and Wi-Fi.
Effects on population
Jammers can interfere with law enforcement communication, whether intentionally or not, raising safety concerns. When a jammer is used, it does not pick and choose which wavelengths to disrupt, and can prevent all cell phones in its vicinity from making or receiving calls, texts, and emails. It also blocks emergency calls from being placed or received.
A real life example of jammers putting the public in danger is a businessman who was using a small device inside his office because he did not want to be disturbed. He was also inadvertently disrupting communications of a nearby fire department.
What’s being done
Law enforcement agencies and card networks are cracking down on the manufacturing, distribution and consumption of jamming devices. While many countries have made jammers illegal, some countries have varying degrees of legality. For instance:
- In the UK, it is illegal to use jammers but still legal to own them.
- In New Zealand, it is illegal to sell, manufacture, or use jammers.
- France has legalized jammers in locations like movie theaters and concert halls, and is finalizing technology that will allow calls to emergency services to go through.
- In the United States, it is a violation of federal law to market, sell, import, or use a signal jammer, except in very limited circumstances involving federal law enforcement (see the FCC enforcement advisory here).
As regulations and law enforcement continue to advance laws and rules regarding jammers, it is important for all members of the payments value chain to remain compliant with local, global and card network regulations. With careful and continual merchant due diligence and monitoring, you can keep your portfolio diverse, profitable, and compliant with all regulations.
Learn more about how G2’s Persistent Merchant Monitoring can help you to closely monitor your merchants’ websites and alert you to any issues you may need to be aware of.