FCC Agents Expand Online Prowling

It’s already well-established that FCC field enforcement agents use the internet to collect information for busting pirate radio stations – visiting station web sites, Facebook pages, and the like looking for information to beef up their cases.
FCC agents have also gone after the sellers of non-certified AM and FM transmitters, illegal CB amplifiers, and signal jamming devices. In the past, this has included scouring eBay looking for scofflaws.
This week the Enforcement Bureau broke new cyber-ground by issuing two citations against people for advertising cell phone jamming devices on Craigslist.
In both cases, a field agent e-mailed the sellers asking for more information on the device (likely, as with many Craigslist buyer-inquiries, not revealing their true identity at first blush). In a case originating in Orlando, Florida, the citation was issued just after the seller responded to the inquiry; but in Washington, D.C., an “undercover Enforcement Bureau agent” actually went through with a purchase.
The citations direct the sellers to “confirm within fifteen (15) calendar days…that you have ceased marketing and operating any jamming device; provide information concerning the source(s) from which you purchased or received the jamming device you advertised on Craigslist as well as any other jamming devices you may have, or previously may have had, in your possession; and provide information concerning any jammer sales that you may have made.”
Failure to comply, says the FCC, may result in “substantial monetary penalties, seizure of equipment, and criminal sanctions.”
Interestingly, the FCC does not seem to have any actual information about the sellers beyond their names and e-mail addresses, which opens up the question of just exactly how it will physically track down the culprits should it choose to do more than admonish them.
Hundreds, if not thousands, of postings exist on Craigslist advertising jammers for sale, so this should keep field agents busy for quite a while. The FCC calls this sort of enforcement “market surveillance,” which is a fancy term for what is effectively desk-work. Your tax dollars in action!