Archived — Notice No. DGTP-005-02

Supplementary Information

Department of Industry

Radiocommunication Act

Notice No. DGTP-005-02 — Announcement of Industry Canada's Policy and Government Decision on Radiocommunication Jamming Devices

The purpose of this Notice is to announce Industry Canada's policy decision on whether to broaden the use of devices capable of blocking or interfering with radiocommunications.

On March 9, 2001, Industry Canada released a consultation paper, Public Discussion on Cell Phone Silencers (DGTP-002-01). The consultation sought to establish whether the public interest would be served if the current occasional consideration of authorization of jamming devices, for law enforcement and public safety purposes, was to be broadened for wider niche market and location-specific applications.

The consultation elicited over 200 submissions from individual Canadians and some 30 submissions by Canadian companies and Industry Associations. A substantial majority of the individual public submissions were against the further broadened use of jammers. Some of the issues raised in these submissions included reservations about the general use of these devices concerned public safety (the inability to call 911 in emergencies), personal freedoms (the inability to receive important phone calls), and potential impairment of communications for law enforcement and security agencies.

Companies and associations including the wireless industry, police, fire and medical services as well as provincial government agencies, were also opposed. In addition, the three potential distributors of jamming devices agreed that permitting the broadened use of pure jamming devices was not a preferable solution. The remaining comments supported the use of these devices in restaurants and theatres citing the lack of consideration for others (for an individual's right to a quiet place), or lack of social etiquette, particularly in public places, as their strongest rationale. The Department observes however, that no restaurant or theatre association commented during the consultation.

Decision

Industry Canada is announcing that it will no longer authorize the use of jamming devices. This is consistent with the Departmental mandate to manage the radio frequency spectrum. With respect to the use of jamming devices in connection with federal security and law enforcement functions for national security purposes, an alternative authorization process is currently under review.

On the use of cell phones in public places, Industry Canada notes that the wireless industry has initiated a program of public education on cell-phone etiquette. The Department strongly encourages the wireless industry to continue and indeed to intensify its efforts to promote responsible cell phone use.

Michael Helm
Director General
Telecommunications Policy Branch

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