We have learned from multiple reliable sources close to us that the Department of Homeland Security may be bringing Communication Jamming Devices into the St. Louis/Ferguson Area in preparation for what is to come and in an effort to help and support local law enforcement. The Jammers would be used to disrupt communications between riotors so that they cannot organize attacks. It would also take down the internet streaming capabilities of some of the Radical Muslim Organizations and Left Wing Media that seem to be “on the scene” at every major conflict or incident in that area of town.
The idea of using Jammers is relatively new, but similar tactics have been used in the past. In 2011, San Fransisco Transit Police shut down 4 cell towers:
In order to subvert planned demonstrations over a shooting by transit police, San Francisco transit officials
blocked shut down cell phone reception transmission in train stations for three hours last Thursday.
Officials with the Bay Area Rapid Transit system, or BART, confirmed on Friday that they had shut down electrical power to cellular towers in four stations during rush hour, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The purpose of the blackout was to disrupt protesters’ plans to use mobile devices to coordinate a demonstration on train platforms.
BART officials insist their tactics were legal because they thwarted a protest in a station, which is not. The only flaw in that argument is that the transit authority’s actions constitute a clear violation of the First Amendment rights, not just of protesters but of uninvolved citizens who were merely trying to get home at the end of a workday.
The downside to this tactic is that it is indiscriminate and could prevent a true victim from being able to reach 911 (unless the jamming technology somehow does not jam that frequency of mobile call)
On November 12th 2013 the United States District Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the Department of Homeland Security must disclose to the Electronic Privacy Information Center details of the department’s Standard Operating Procedure 303, which permits the DHS to block Internet and cellular traffic regionally or nationally with the expressed intention of preventing the detonation of radio-controlled ordinances. In reality, however, SOP 303 is feared to have the potential to be used to stop free speech and to be abused, and — in at least one case — it is thought to have been used in just that manner.
During the chaos of the Boston Marathon bombing, the Associated Press issued a now-retracted piece in which it alleged that law enforcement shut down cell phone service in the Boston Metro area in order to prevent the remote detonation of any remaining bombs. While this was ultimately denied by Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel, the idea that the government could, theoretically, block the cellular network drove privacy advocates to determine if this was — in fact — a possibility.
“Network jamming,” or the intentional blocking of radio signals for the intent of disrupting cellular, Wi-Fi, GPS and/or emergency response communications, is an imprisonable and finable felony. “While people who use jammers may think they are only silencing disruptive conversations or disabling unwanted GPS capabilities, they could also be preventing a scared teenager from calling 9-1-1, an elderly person from placing an urgent call to a doctor, or a rescue team from homing in on the location of a severely injured person,” wrote Michele Ellison, chief of the Federal Communication Commission’s Enforcement Bureau, in a FCC enforcement advisory. “The price for one person’s moment of peace or privacy, could be the safety and well-being of others.”
Jamming has been a commonly-used tactic recently — particularly, in response to Arab Spring demonstrations in the Middle East, in which Libya, Tunisia and Bahrain have all been accused of interfering with cell phone receptions, and where Internet blockages were a common anti-protest mechanism. Due to this, the perception of the United States possibly controlling the flow of cell phone and Internet traffic with a theoretical “kill-switch” plays into the continuing narrative of a federal government that repeatedly and intrusively participates in the monitoring of private citizens’ communications. But until recently, the thought that the federal government could or would block cell phone service was regarded as nothing more than conspiracy.