Nowadays GPS trackers and GPS navigation systems are becoming more and more popular. Oftentimes, customers approach us about devices called GPS jammers, devices that makes GPS tracking impossible. What we then tell them is that GPS jammers are illegal and unethical. And here’s why.
What is a GPS Jammer?
A GPS jammer is a device that causes signal noise and disruption and tricks the GPS receiver into believing that satellites are not operating correctly. GPS satellites are susceptible to tampering because they are widely available for public use, especially as the popularity of GPS devices grows and more people purchase them. We depend on these satellites for extremely important communications, from reasons ranging from turn-by-turn directions to military procedures. Because tampering with GPS satellites could have such serious national security implications, GPS jammers are illegal in the United States, yet there are still companies that sell them to the public.
GPS Jammers Are Illegal
First and foremost, Brickhouse Security does not sell GPS jammers because they are illegal. If we were to sell an illegal product, that would not only be punishable by law but also highly unethical. GPS jammers are illegal largely because of the problems they cause to critical devices.
“GPS is so embedded in the transportation, manufacturing industries and economies of our societies that the risk is high,” commented David Last, an Emeritus Professor of Bangor University in the U.K. and a well-known expert on crminal use of GPS jammers. “It’s especially so in telecommunications: GPS is the ultimate source of timing for most of our telephone systems, the Internet and, in the U.S., cell phones.“
Criminal Activities Are Made Possible, Easy and Cheap
Criminal activities ranging from skipping through tolls on interstate highway travel to intercepting smartphones are possible if you have a GPS jammer. Criminals who are required by law to wear GPS ankle bracelets, for example, could use jammers to disrupt the satellite’s knowledge of his/her location. This all together scary statistic could have major implications for law enforcement, who need to know the whereabouts of these criminals at all times.
For the most part, it seems like people are using GPS jammers to protect their own security and to prevent other people from tracking them without their knowledge. But regardless of your intentions, negligence does not render you unaccountable. “Besides being illegal, or [criminals] thinking they can get away with using them because customs will not detect them, there are a wide variety of critical devices that could be affected, and there could be unintended consequences that cause problems, and you have no idea you are causing them,” said Bruce Romano, the legal adviser at the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology.
In the Wrong Hands, National Security Could Be at Risk
As of now there have not been any documented breaches of national security due to GPS jammers, but some think that it is only a matter of time. A terrorist could conceivably use a jammer to disrupt communications in military operations or even on airplanes. Something as simple as making pilots switch from ground-based radars to a back-up system could cause enough confusion to potentially end in disaster. As technology continues to evolve, so do the potential risks associated with more sophisticated jammers. “It goes to the capability of the jamming device,” explained Ronald Repasi, the FCC’s Deputy Chief for the Office of Engineering and Technology. “Higher power devices will have greater range and greater potential for interference over a wider area than lower power devices.” Buying, selling or using a GPS Jammer is against the law. Although they are readily available from international websites, it will be stopped by customs and you will face serious penalties for buying such products.
Despite the concerns about GPS jammers being in operation, it’s a relief knowing that the government is currently working on technology to better defend GPS satellites from jammers. “[Jam resistance] is an important part of what we’ve done with our GPS constellation, and we continually work to improve jam-resistant capability,” stated said Andy Roake, chief of current operations at Air Force Space Command Public Affairs. “However, we cannot discuss technical elements of how we achieve this due to the sensitivity of revealing capabilities to any potential adversary.”