Jamming of radio signals authorized
Special permission for RCMP, military
restricted to G8 summit, Pope's visit
By PAUL WALDIE
Friday, June 21, 2002 Print Edition, Page A1
TORONTO -- The Canadian military and the RCMP have been given special
authorization to jam radio and cellphone signals during the G8 Summit
next week and the Pope's visit to Canada in July.
It's the first time police or the military have ever been allowed to
block signals, an official said.
The authorization allows the Department of National Defence and the RCMP
to use jamming devices around Calgary and Kananaskis, Alta., from June
17 to June 29 for the summit of leaders from Group of Eight nations.
They will have the same power to jam signals in Toronto from July 16 to
July 31 -- the Pope is scheduled to arrive in Canada July 23 and depart
July 29, with three Toronto appearances in between.
RCMP spokesman Corporal Benoît Desjardins said jamming is an important
part of the security measures for both events.
"The RCMP must ensure the safety and security of those attending," he
"It could be used, for example, if there was threat of a detonation of
some type of a remote-controlled device. We could jam the frequencies to
make sure nobody could send a signal to that bomb."
He did not know, however, how the jamming would affect cell phones or
commercial radio transmissions.
The order, signed by the Minister of Industry on June 6, exempts the
army and police from provisions of the Radiocommunication Act, which
prohibits "the interference with or obstruction of radiocommunication
without lawful excuse."
The exemption "will provide a way to address the problematic application
of the prohibitions," the order says.
It specifies that "every reasonable effort shall be made to confine or
restrict to the extent possible interference with or obstruction of a
radiocommunication . . . to the smallest physical area, the fewest
number of frequencies and the minimum duration required to accomplish
the objectives of the interference or obstruction."
David Warnes, a senior adviser in Industry Canada's telecommunications
branch, said yesterday that it is the first time this kind of order has
He added that cellphone jammers are illegal in Canada, but the
department will soon release a policy on the devices.
The department held public consultations on cellphone jammers last year
and it is considering permitting them in theatres, hospitals and other
public places. Jamming devices are also illegal in the United States,
but there is a growing underground market for the devices, which can be
bought for about $2,200.
A survey of 2,000 people last year by Decima Research found about 50 per
cent support for jammers in public places.
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