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Radio frequency jammers

A radio frequency jammer is a device constructed, adapted or intended to be used to prevent the reception of radio transmissions by a receiver relevant to its function.

At best a radio frequency jammer could cause you to miss a call; at worst, it could facilitate crime or put life at risk.

How jammers work

A jammer normally functions by emitting an electromagnetic disturbance, sometimes called ‘noise’, on a band at an intensity that overwhelms the target receiver, making reception impossible.

Jammers may be designed to affect specific services like the frequencies allocated for mobile phone services, satellite navigation systems, Wi-Fi or security systems. Jammers have been used to commit crime.

Criminal offences

Use of jammers

It is a crime to use any apparatus, including jammers,   for the purposes of deliberately interfering with wireless telegraphy (radio communications) in the UK. The maximum penalty is two years’ imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine. See section 68 of the Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006.

Making jammers available

If you manufacture, import or distribute jammers, you may be committing a crime. The Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) Directive 2014/30/EU, which has been implemented into UK law by the Electromagnetic Compatibility Regulations 2016 (S.I. 2016/1091), places strict requirements on all electrical and electronic apparatus placed on the market or taken into service in the UK. The requirements state that apparatus must not cause excessive interference.

Ofcom may take appropriate enforcement action, including prosecution, to enforce the EMC provisions. The maximum penalty convention under the regulations is three months’ imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine. The courts can order forfeiture of stocks of equipment.

Legal alternatives

Some people or organisations may wish to prevent the use of mobile phones in their premises, for example the owners of theatres, cinemas, concert halls or restaurants.

You should use education and publicity to discourage the use of mobile devices. Effective measures include display notices and passive detectors that alert when a mobile device enters the vicinity.