FCC Fines Chinese Signal Jamming Company $34.9 Million (6/19/14)
Thursday, June 19, 2014 | Comments

The FCC plans to issue the largest fine in its history against C.T.S. Technology, a Chinese electronics manufacturer and online retailer, for allegedly marketing 285 models of signal jamming devices to U.S. consumers for more than two years. The FCC applied the maximum fine allowed to each jammer model allegedly marketed by C.T.S., resulting in a planned fine of $34,912,500.

“In this landmark enforcement action, we aggressively address the illegal marketing of GPS, cell and other signal jamming devices to U.S. consumers over the Internet,” the FCC notice said. “Jamming devices pose tangible threats to the integrity of U.S. communications infrastructure. They can endanger life and property by preventing individuals from making 9-1-1 or other emergency calls or disrupting the basic communications essential to aviation and marine safety.”

C.T.S. operates a website that markets consumer electronics to individuals in the U.S., where it allegedly misled U.S. consumers by falsely claiming that certain signal jammers were approved by the FCC. The use of such devices by U.S. consumers is illegal under any circumstance. C.T.S. also sold 10 high-powered signal jammers to undercover FCC personnel.

“In some cases, the devices sold by C.T.S. Technology not only jammed the communications signals advertised, but also were potentially much more harmful, blocking communications far beyond the scope of those listed in their advertisements and marketing materials,” the notice said.

In addition to the planned $34,912,500 fine, the FCC is ordering C.T.S. to cease marketing illegal signal jammers to U.S. consumers and provide information to the FCC about any persons and entities in the U.S. that purchased its devices.

Signal jamming devices operate by transmitting powerful radio signals that overpower, jam or interfere with authorized communications, including cellphone calls, GPS systems, Wi-Fi networks and first responder communications. It is a violation of federal law to market, sell, import or use a signal jammer in the United States and its territories, except in very limited circumstances involving federal law enforcement.

“All companies, whether domestic or foreign, are banned from marketing illegal jammers in the U.S.,” said Travis LeBlanc, acting chief of the Enforcement Bureau. “Signal jammers present a direct danger to public safety, potentially blocking the communications of first responders. Operating a jammer is also illegal, and consumers who do so face significant civil and criminal penalties.”

The full notice is available here.

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