Are mobile phone jammers illegal in the UK?

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Are mobile phone jammers illegal in the UK?

Postby m0lsx » Tue Jan 17, 2017 4:08 pm

I ask because...


http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news/15027100.School_brings_in__jamming__technology_to_prevent_pupils_using_mobile_phones_in_the_classroom/

A SCHOOL has introduced new technology to prevent students from social media distractions after usage was getting out of control.

Headteacher Julia Polley at Wensleydale School and Sixth Form College, in Leyburn, was fed up of pupils spending more time hooked to their phones than concentrating on their lessons, so has planned to install equipment which blocks mobile data signals within the school.


Often targeted for use in such areas as theatres, cinemas, and libraries where the use of mobile phones can prove annoying – but some jammers can affect wider areas and other frequencies than those they are intended for. They can also result in the disruption of emergency and rescue radio services in the public area.

However, it is understood the technology to be used at Wensleydale School is highly site specific, with the ability to isolate individual classrooms.


North Yorkshire County Council said it was not aware of any other schools trying such methods to control internet usage, but said it was down to individual headteachers to decide to do.


Looking at..
https://www.ofcom.org.uk/spectrum/radio-spectrum-and-the-law/jammers

Ofcom clearly sees Jammers as being illegal. So this story should be worth following.
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Re: Are mobile phone jammers illegal in the UK?

Postby G4RMT » Tue Jan 17, 2017 4:30 pm

She's going to get in hot water, isn't she - excellent idea, but basically she wants a technology solution instead of just banning them and having the courage to take the wrath of the students and some idiot parents.
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Re: Are mobile phone jammers illegal in the UK?

Postby Scan125 » Tue Jan 17, 2017 6:54 pm

For jammers to work they have to transmit/radiate a competing signal. To be effective they have to transmit on the same frequency band as is used by the device to be banned.

To transmit requires a license (unless on license exempt frequencies and complying with power and antenna restrictions). Even if you had a license (which would not be granted for deliberately disruptive transmission use) doing so is still illegal.

HOWEVER passively blocking a signal by use of screening, Faraday cage etc. is perfectly legal. Practicalities and expense of doing so for school wide coverage would make this prohibitively too expensive.

An alternative solution would be to equip all teachers/officials with a mobile phone signal detector.

http://www.electroschematics.com/1035/mobile-bug-detector-sniffer/

As their range is limited (couple of metres) the teacher would have to walk the classroom/exam hall. This is actually a good feature in that instead of responding to 30 phones in a classroom the teach would only be altered when with 2 metres of the active.

These devices that act purely as signal strength meters are perfectly legal as they do not "intercept" or otherwise tamper with the phones signal, privacy, etc.

Now the smart trick (given the circuit designs and components are readily available) is to get the science/physics/electronic students to build and test the devices as part of their school work (big bonus points to those who do). The downside might be that there are serious playground punch-ups when other students find they have been stitched up by some of their school mates :mrgreeny:
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Re: Are mobile phone jammers illegal in the UK?

Postby m0lsx » Tue Jan 17, 2017 6:57 pm

Sadly a lot of headteachers don't listen to advice. My daughters school had pmr radios they used pupil names over & when I tried to talk to them about it, in terms of Child Protection laws & common sense. I was told they have a policy & it was none of my business. So I had no option but to go over their heads & speak to someone at County Hall. He was horrified, both by what they were doing & by their response & decided a County wide policy was required. He used a County Council employee who was a radio amateur to draw up the policy & spoke to me several times about various bits.
The idea was not to stop school using radios, but to make sure the radio use did not compromise Child Protection standards / laws or School security.
I also had a run in with another of my daughters schools over it's use of mini buses without operator licences. The head teacher told me I was wrong & would not listen when I tried to tell him that he was invalidating his insurance & that I had double checked my facts. In the end I had no option but to talk to VOSA again, who then paid him a visit & as I understand it, made him more than aware of why he should listen to friendly advice.
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Re: Are mobile phone jammers illegal in the UK?

Postby Frequency Hopper » Wed Jan 18, 2017 6:37 pm

I am torn on this.

I personally believe all mobile phones should be checked in on entry to school and then checked out when they leave. I can see the distraction they cause with my own children, not only hindering my attempts at communication and normal discussion but at how they become isolated from the real world.

That being said, she is clearly stating she is intending to break the law.

I thought this was funny

However, it is understood the technology to be used at Wensleydale School is highly site specific, with the ability to isolate individual classrooms.


Impossible! My 500mw 70cm transmitter which has an actual output of around 200mw can open a repeater 2 miles away even if I sit in the corner in the basement away from the window. Surely Headteacher Julia Polley is not intending to build Faraday cages around the whole school and indeed every classroom block to isolate each room?
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Re: Are mobile phone jammers illegal in the UK?

Postby m0lsx » Wed Jan 18, 2017 7:00 pm

Frequency Hopper wrote:I thought this was funny

However, it is understood the technology to be used at Wensleydale School is highly site specific, with the ability to isolate individual classrooms.


Impossible! My 500mw 70cm transmitter which has an actual output of around 200mw can open a repeater 2 miles away even if I sit in the corner in the basement away from the window. Surely Headteacher Julia Polley is not intending to build Faraday cages around the whole school and indeed every classroom block to isolate each room?


She sounds like she is gullible & has fallen for a dodgy sales pitch that she has not had the intelligence to check out.
I wonder if anyone has, or will report her to Ofcom?
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Re: Are mobile phone jammers illegal in the UK?

Postby Frequency Hopper » Wed Jan 18, 2017 7:16 pm

m0lsx wrote:I wonder if anyone has, or will report her to Ofcom?


I think it is highly likely they will be aware of it judging by the article comments.

How is the headmistress managing to get around the current laws in place, from what I can see the school will be committing an offence under Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006 as it Deliberately trying to interfere with mobile signals, even if the signal blocking technology only works in classrooms it is still an offence to Deliberately block the signal. Ofcom themselves are clearly on this: "The use of any apparatus, whether or not wireless telegraphy apparatus, for the purpose of interfering with any wireless telegraphy, is an offence under the Wireless Telegraphy Act 2006. It is an indictable offence that on conviction in Crown Court carries a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine. The courts can also order forfeit of any apparatus used in the commission of the offence."


Personally if I felt something had to be done I would not report it to Ofcom but rather give her a call and let her know the legal implications. With a bit of education on the matter herself she can focus her time on another plan I wish her a lot of luck with. That being said, I am fairly sure The Northern Echo article and it's comments will not have escaped her or her friends/colleagues/family so she is probably now aware of legal situation. I do hope she manages to ban them a legal way however as they have no place in the classroom.
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UPDATE: Are mobile phone jammers illegal in the UK?

Postby m0lsx » Sun Jan 22, 2017 10:56 pm

A headmistress who wanted to use mobile phone jamming technology to stop children getting distracted in lessons has been stopped by red tape, after Ofcom warned that it was a criminal offence.


But don't worry because it was according to the Telegraph, not the Law, but red tape, that stopped her!!!.
As the headline reads....
Headmistress scuppered by red tape as she tried to use mobile phone jamming technology to stop children using internet in class



However, her plans were scuppered when she was informed by North Yorkshire County Council’s IT support team and Ofcom that this was a criminal offence.


Such technology is illegal because jammers are likely to affect wider areas and other frequencies than those they are intended for.

They can also result in the disruption of emergency and rescue radio services in the public area.

Ofcom has said it is a criminal offence under the Wireless Telegraphy Act to use any apparatus for the purposes of deliberately interfering with radio communications in the UK.


An Ofcom spokesperson said: “We sympathise with schools’ concerns about mobile phones in the classroom. Unfortunately signal blockers can harm other peoples’ mobile reception, as well as interfering with the emergency services and air traffic control.”


Full story at
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/2017/01/19/headmistress-buys-illegal-jammer-block-students-internet-use/
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Re: Are mobile phone jammers illegal in the UK?

Postby G4RMT » Mon Jan 23, 2017 6:37 pm

Teachers, not all, but many, are skilled in an exceptionally narrow band of knowledge and practice. I still do a bit of supply teaching, mainly to keep me busy in gaps between real work, and I always get asked to cover schools from further away than makes sense, because I am one of the few who are willing to do general cover - as in teaching anything. My real teaching background was in FE and HE, so GCSE and BTEC Level 2 needs very little advanced knowledge, and my own school education is still in my head. With age, comes research skills, so when asked questions that I don't know, it's very easy to find the answers - because they are in the course books - and speed reading is a real benefit.

Head teachers rarely get trained, so only know what their original subject specialism was, plus their reading of the management documents. It's probable that the Head had never heard of OFCOM, had no idea of the contents of the Wireless Telegraphy Act and as 'jammers' are obviously everyday products, based on the TV and movies - seeing them online instantly available, made that Head genuinely think they were legit. Probably a big shock when she was told.

It was c;ealy a case of using what she thought was 'the law' to solve a tricky admin problem.
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Re: Are mobile phone jammers illegal in the UK?

Postby m0lsx » Mon Jan 23, 2017 8:47 pm

For what it's worth, I think it would make sense to allow places like schools etc to use those small pocket jammers during exams etc.
Ofcom should be able to issue short term licences, where locations can prove a need.
I use to use a pocket jammer when I was repossessing trucks, as some had trackers in them & it gave me an extra level of problem solving.
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