Can you hear me now? Probably not, if someone around you has a cell phone jammer, devices that block reception within 10 meters. The discreet gadgets are gaining popularity among theater and restaurant owners, subway riders, and others trying to silence annoying people who talk on the their cell phones in public.
Last month, Canadian police were caught in a jam on a dark highway, when they pulled over suspects carrying a jammer that rendered their radios silent. Luckily, they seized the device, and soon an official warning went out to all Canadian police. In the US first-time offenders can be fined up to $11,000. In addition, the jamming party can be charged with theft, as the airways belong to the companies that purchased them.
The idea of anyone, especially police, entering a dead zone frightens me, but I understand the frustration with obnoxious cell phone chatting. Maybe more countries can start passing cell phone bans, similar to those seen (and not heard) on France's railway or Austria's public transit, while keeping the jammers away from the bad guys.