Thanks, dad: Jammer used to stop kids going online, wipes out a town's internet by mistake

The interesting control method could lead to a hefty fine and jail time.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer

A father who used a signal jammer to rein in his children's internet use managed to wipe out an entire town's connectivity by mistake.

The French Agence Nationale des Fréquences, the organization responsible for managing radio frequencies in the country, received a strange complaint (translated) from a mobile phone operator. 

The carrier had detected odd signal drops that were impacting the telephone and internet services of residents in the French town of Messanges. 

According to the ANFR (via Bleeping Computer), there was one strange detail that stood out in the report: services were cut consistently from midnight to roughly around 3am every day. 

As residents slept, a member of the Toulouse Regional Service of the ANFR began walking the streets to investigate.

While the examiner watched the clock tick over to midnight, their spectrum analyzer equipment took on a familiar shape -- revealing a jammer was in use. 

The waves emitted by the device were followed to a house in a neighboring town. The next day, one of the residents admitted responsibility and revealed that he had purchased a multi-band jammer to prevent his teenage children from going online at night without permission. 

The father claimed that his teenagers had become "addicted" to social media and browsing the web since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, a situation potentially made worse due to social restrictions and lockdowns. 

The jammer was intended to stop them from covertly using their smartphones to go online when they were meant to be asleep. However, the jammer also managed to wreck connectivity havoc for other residents and the neighboring town. 

"By wanting to ban the internet in his home, he applied the same sentence to his entire neighborhood," the agency said. 

The problem is that using a jammer is not legal in France, and as a result, the man faces a maximum fine of €30,000 and even a jail term of up to six months. 

In another example of a town resident's use of technology having inadvertent consequences, in 2020, telecoms engineers spent 18 months frustrated and perplexed over the sudden but consistent disappearance of a Welsh village's internet at 7am every morning. 

It turned out that all of the broadband and BT service issues endured by hundreds of residents were caused by one individual who was turning on an old, secondhand television set at that time every day. The TV was sending out electrical bursts capable of disrupting signals. 

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