A Melbourne taxi driver was recently convicted and fined $850 by the Magistrates Court for recklessly engaging in conduct that would cause substantial interference to radiocommunications (section 197 of the Radiocommunications Act 1992).
The prosecution was the result of a joint operation between the Australian Communications and Media Authority and the Victorian Taxi Services Commission to combat GPS jammer use within the Melbourne taxi industry. The driver, who pleaded guilty, was detected operating a GPS jammer in the CBD through ACMA surveillance techniques.
GPS jammers are reportedly used by some drivers to block their vehicle’s location through the fare dispatch system. This helps the driver pick up additional jobs while dispatch believes he is stationary or at another location.
The potential consequences of GPS jammer use are serious. They can substantially degrade or disrupt critical military and civilian applications by blocking radiocommunications signals used for the radionavigation-satellite service.
While the penalty issued by the Magistrates Court was based on the circumstances of the particular case, it was noted the offence was not trivial in nature. Individuals should be aware there are more serious and potentially unexpected consequences. Disrupting these types of radiocommunications services could attract a maximum penalty upon conviction of five years’ imprisonment (if the offender is an individual) or otherwise a penalty of $850,000.
GPS jammers are prohibited under Commonwealth law and their possession (for the purpose of operation or supply), operation or supply is an offence. The full list of potential offences and penalties is here.
As GPS jammers present a high risk to public safety and the integrity of the radiofrequency spectrum, the ACMA will continue to target their use.
GPS jammers are an ACMA priority compliance area for 2013-14.
9 January 2014