The man, known only as Eric, was recently tracked down by NBC 10 investigators. Eric told them that he’d bought his signal-blocking contraption online after becoming fed up with people talking at high volume into their devices while riding the bus.
“I guess I’m taking the law into my own hands and quite frankly, I’m proud of it,” he told NBC 10.
One woman, who wished to remain nameless, saw Eric firing up his device on a recent bus journey, and was shocked by what she saw. “He’s blatantly holding this device that looks like a walkie-talkie with four very thick antennae,” she told NBC 10. “I started to watch him and any time somebody started talking on the phone, he would start pressing the button on the side of the device.”
The woman added, “Every time I see this guy on the bus, I have a mixture of fear and anger. Part of me wants to go up to him and say, ‘Stop doing this, how dare you.’”
Of course, there will be those who sympathize with Eric’s response to people who talk loudly on their phones in public. However, there’s one problem — phone jammers are illegal. Any person who buys, owns or uses such a device could land up in jail and face a fine of up to $16,000.
Jammers could potentially cause havoc across communication networks, preventing people from making emergency calls, for example. Police radio and GPS devices can also be affected.
When Eric was told by NBC 10 that the jammers were illegal, he disagreed and claimed it was “a gray area.” However, he later called the station to say he’d done more research and discovered that, indeed, NBC 10 was correct and that he was now done with jamming.
The bus travelers of Philadelphia, however, may not be able to talk freely on their mobiles for long, especially if Eric gets wind of the SpeechJammer, a device that throws a speaker’s words back at them a split second after they’ve said them, creating a confusing echo effect that should cause the person to quieten down.
You can see Eric chatting with NBC 10 in the video below, jammer in hand.