Oh, U.S. Senate. Just when we thought you had turned your collective attention to the plethora of incredibly important issues to tackle (read: healthcare, 2 wars, global warming, education, etc), you go and pass the Safe Prisons Communications Act of 2009.
The Act, or SPCA09 as we like to call it around here, provides state governors and/or the Federal Bureau of Investigation the power to have cellular signals blocked (or jammed, as the kids like to say) inside prisons. Why do they need this authority? Well, apparently smuggled cell phones have become quite an issue in our lovely prison system. This has in turn created increased security threats, i.e. allowing inmates to conduct crimes from the comfort of their cell (zing!).
More specifically, SPCA09 allows prisons to petition the FCC to use jamming devices so long as they don’t cause interference with legitimate communications. Luckily for the rest of us, the Act also requires the FCC to be fairly specific about where and how signals can be blocked, so law enforcement officials won’t, in theory, be able to overly abuse this new “power.” Nothing is set in stone yet, well, at least until the bill is ratified by the House and signed by the Pres.