GPS Jammer Fined $32,000

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A New Jersey man who didn't want his boss following his every move has lost his job and had the book thrown at him by the FCC because the inexpensive ($68 and up) GPS jammer he carried in his truck shut down an experimental, high-tech, multimillion-dollar navigation system at Newark Liberty Airport. Gary Bojczak was fined $31,875 by the FCC after admitting that he carried the device, which is readily available for sale on the Internet, so he could disable the GPS transmitter on the pickup truck he drove for engineering company Tilcon. He apparently didn't want his bosses to know his whereabouts when he was near the airport and his little jammer brought down a Ground Based Augmentation System (GBAS) being tested by Honeywell.

GBAS is designed to provide guidance for instrument approaches and departures with an accuracy of one meter. It can, when it's not being jammed by what looks like a deck of cards with one or more antennae sticking out of it (some simply plug into a vehicle power port), provide precision necessary for Cat III approaches. When the system experienced "interference"  the FCC went looking for the culprit using "direction finding techniques" and confronted Bojczak, who readily admitted to using the jammer. Ironically, GPS jamming detectors are also available from sites that offer the jammers but it's not clear where the FCC got its gear. However they found him, they showed no mercy on the privacy-seeking truck driver. While it's normal, according to electronics industry attorney Chip Yorkgitis, for those whose electronic experiments interfere with others using the same area of frequency to get off with a warning, the FCC skipped the warning and fined Bojczak heavily. Yorkgitis said that if the heavy fine isn't enough to deter others from using the apparently common devices, criminal charges are the next option.