UK police are suggesting teenagers who digitally violate the Non-Aggression Principle should be punished by wearing WiFi jammers on their ankles.
Cybercrime is a problem, and a growing one at that — with 51% of fraud offenses believing to be “cyber related” and the average age of those committing a cybercrime in the UK being 17. There have been many ideas on how to solve the problem of teenagers digitally violating the Non-Aggression Principle, but wearing ankle jammers will be ineffective and violate the rights of other citizens those convicted of cybercrime come into contact with.
“We have got to stop using 19th century punishments to deal with 21st century crimes,” chief superintendent Gavin Thomas, president of the Police Superintendents Association, told the Telegraph. “It costs around £38,000 a year to keep someone in prison but if you look at the statistics around short term sentencing the recidivism rate is extraordinarily high…If you have got a 16-year-old who has hacked into your account and stolen your identity, this is a 21st century crime, so we ought to have a 21st century methodology to address it.”
Despite the cop admitting that there are some obvious practical and human rights issues with this plan, he still thinks it shouldn’t stop the Ministry of Justice from utilizing the intrusive technology, further stating that offenders “could be required to go on an ethics and value program about how you behave online, which is an area that I think is absent at the moment.”
For those who are unaware of what jamming is, it’s a technology which sends out signal waves matched to specific technology frequencies in order to block them by sending out a far more powerful signal to drown out legitimate sources. A good example of WiFi jamming in practice is if you turn on a microwave that hasn’t been shielded well, while trying to use a cordless phone or WiFi signal at 2.4GHz near your microwave. You will notice your signal quality drops dramatically, or even entirely, in such scenarios.
Now, while this scenario is perfectly legal — as it is only a benign side effect of the modern cooking appliance — it should be noted that while you can purchase signal jammers for 2G, 3G, 4G, LTE, 2.4GHz Wifi, and even 5GHz wifi, that it is highly illegal in a majority of countries. Deliberate signal interference usually has extremely steep fines and penalties. Rightfully, I might add, because you are messing with someone else’s property, and their ability to broadcast signals they rely on for living in the modern world. Signal jamming should be seen as a violation of the NAP no matter the originator of the signal jamming, unless it is being used in a defensive measure, such as to impair a terrorist’s ability to communicate in a hostage situation.
But the use of jamming in such scenarios is extremely regulated. In this case, however, we are talking about outfitting hundreds, if not thousands of these teens with anklets that could impair law abiding citizens communications when out and about. Imagine you happen to be close to an individual wearing one while going to grab a coffee, and trying to write an article for Being Libertarian. It would be frustrating to not understand why your WiFi is not working all of a sudden. Now compound this problem by having thousands of these individuals walking around. It is critical to note that many emergency services in the UK and the USA are migrating to data-oriented communications; we are talking about potentially having random interference with medical and police emergencies.
One major flaw that is overlooked, is that potential localized signal jamming can be easily defeated by employing the use of a Faraday Cage. It doesn’t even require all that much to create one, simply wrap aluminum foil or brass mesh around the device and the signal from such a jamming device can be blocked. In fact, many banks employ a Faraday cage inside their building to block cell signals as it is.
It’s a can of worms we shouldn’t open. Not to mention that we are cutting off individuals from easy access to modern communications, but that it is only cutting off their wireless connections. It still doesn’t impair a wired ethernet connection at all. This is yet another short sighted and stupid attempt from the state to solve problems, when they have no background to really be offering proper solutions.
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