Everyone want to allow your cell phone jammer ring?  There’s one important problem: The FCC isn’t waiving a rule here against cell phone jammer. Unless I’m missing some subtle statutory quirk, they’re essentially “waiving” a statute—specifically 47 U.S.C. 333:

No person shall willfully or maliciously interfere with or cause interference to any radio communications of any station licensed or authorized by or under this chapter or operated by the United States Government.

There a right way allow to your cell phone jammer to work. You don’t need to be an administrative lawyer to know that agencies can’t just ignore acts of Congress—no matter how good the policy reason for the waiver is. That’s a big part of what the “rule of law” means.  Period. Do not pass ‘Go’.  Do not collect $3,101.09 (today’s equivalent of $200 in 1935, when Monopoly debuted).

Fortunately, as noted in the WSJ article Adam cited, at least one legislator realizes this and thinks it’s worth fixing:  U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady (R., Texas) told the Journal that his office is “drafting the necessary legislation to remove this outdated FCC roadblock.”  The FCC, of course, sped right past that particular roadblock.  But then, what should we expect from an agency that has, under its outgoing (and none-too-soon!) chairman Kevin Martin, simply disregarded statutory limits on its authority when it found Comcast in violation of the agency’s non-binding net neutrality principles this summer? 

Now, when Congress considers this question, let us hope that they draw the right lesson from this episode:   Whatever the wisdom of outright bans on particular technologies, writing such bans into statutes are a really bad idea.  At least if such decisions were left up to regulatory agencies, they would have the flexibility to decide when to depart from a general ban.  Thus, the best approach would be to repeal the ban altogether.  The FCC probably already has the authority to ban jammers under Section 302a, which provides that:

The Commission may, consistent with the public interest, convenience, and necessity, make reasonable regulations: Governing the interference potential of devices which in their operation are capable of emitting radio frequency energy by radiation, conduction, or other means in sufficient degree to cause harmful interference to radio communications…

Such a wonderful way which allow cell phone jammer to done well.