FCC Levies Heavy Fines for Clear Cut Criminal Acts
While most caller ID manipulating pranksters are relatively harmless, those who would seek to do harm can face increasingly harsh fines from the FCC.
The federal Truth in Caller ID Act in 2009 made spoofing illegal when used to defraud, cause harm or obtain something of value from a person by fraudulent means. Law enforcement agencies and instances where a court order allows the use of spoofing are exempt from the law.
On June 22, 2011, the Federal Communications Commission announced it would levy fines of $10,000 per offense and up to $1 million for any single spoofing violation.
John F. Blevins, an associate law professor at Loyola University in New Orleans who studies FCC and communications law, said the FCC can begin levying fines on the first offense, which is an interesting wrinkle in the law. He said the FCC usually issues a warning on the first offense, then begins issuing fines on the second offense.
The Federal Trade Commission and states also have the authority to investigate, and in the states’ case, prosecute spoofers.
The FTC recently shut down five companies running illegal computerized calling operations aimed at defrauding people. However, Frank Dorman, public affairs specialist for the FTC, said he doesn’t recall the FTC ever investigating any business or person in Louisiana for spoofing. (full article)
Pranksters be warned! Your calling hijinks can lead to heavy penalties!
Handset Manufacturing Giants Rack up More Legal Bills
In what seems to be a never ending battle for more zeros, mobile phone giant Apple has won a round against Samsung to the tune of $290 million. Hardly a dent in the bottom line for either company, but just the latest in the ebb & flow in the handset market.
A jury on Thursday said that Samsung Electronics would have to pay Apple $290 million more in damages for violating patents, putting an end to one chapter in the long-running patent struggle between the two tech companies.
The six-woman, two-man jury calculated the damages based on 13 products that infringed Apple’s patents. They determined that two smartphones incurred the heftiest damages: Samsung’s Infuse 4G, at about $100 million, and the Droid Charge, at $60 million. (full article)
Cell Phone Jammers Illegal in Many Countries, yet Interest Increases
by Andrew Oliver.
Consumers follow market trends, and this one is very curious. Cell phone jammers, those pocket sized devices that block out cell phone signals in a small area, are gaining in the Google search market online. Not so curious since they’re considered useful by many to protect privacy and provide a level of security in some establishments. Very curious since the items are not legal in many countries and barely legal in many others. A great deal of websites such as this one offer these signal blockers online, most likely to a very discreet customer base – however they do note that the units are not for sale or use in all areas.
In a recent CNN article, it was noted that these fancy gadgets that can be used to jam cell phone signals are illegal and potentially dangerous, experts say.
So, why was Google lighting up Monday with people searching for them? You can thank a guy in Philadelphia who got fed up with folks yakking during his daily bus ride and a local news reporter who happens to ride the same bus.
Days after the story broke on Friday, the apparently fresh interest in the devices, which can be had online for anywhere from less than $40 to more than $1,000, is cause for concern among some security experts.
“The general public doesn’t realize what they’re jamming if they were to start using these things,” said Richard Mislan, an assistant professor of computer and information technology at Purdue University who specializes in cyberforensics. “What’s not obvious is all the wireless connectivity systems that are in the background and maintaining data communications in our daily lives.”
Last week, Philadelphia TV station NBC10 reported on a man who admitted to using a cell-phone jammer during his bus commute to shut down fellow passengers when they were talking loudly.
“I guess I’m taking the law into my own hands, and quite frankly, I’m proud of it,” said the man. (read full article)
So where does that leave the rest of us? Are these devices’ popularity a sign of times to come or an indication that lots of tickets are about to be handed out to their users?