A man in southwest France who accidentally blocked phone signal and internet connection across two communes in a bid to stop his children from going online now risks six months in jail and a fine of €30,000.
The man, who lives in Messanges (Landes, Nouvelle-Aquitaine), is accused of blocking the internet access and mobile phone signal of his entire neighbourhood for several nights, after installing a “band wave jammer” – a device that blocks out mobile phone and internet communications.
He had only intended to stop his own children from going online at night, and reportedly did not realise that the device would work across such a large radius.
The source of the problem was identified after an engineer from national frequency agency l'Agence nationale des fréquences (ANFR) was called to Messanges between midnight and 03:00 one evening, as one of the mobile phone antennas had stopped working.
The engineer visited in a vehicle designed to identify such problems; it had a portable receiver on the roof which detects hostile waves. He also walked around on foot using a similar device, and managed to identify a property that appeared to be the source of the issue.
When questioned, the homeowner immediately admitted to using a jammer, and said he had bought the device to stop his children from using social media or the internet at night, saying that they were addicted.
Every night, he plugged in the jammer, intending to block communications to his home only. Yet, as the ANFR explains on its website, these devices can have “a much wider radius than we think, or the sellers often suggest”.
The use of these devices is strictly illegal in France, and is punishable by up to six months in prison and a fine of €30,000.
The man in question is now facing said sanctions, after the public prosecutor in Dax opened an investigation and asked for gendarmerie assistance from Landes.
The father has also been required to pay a €450 fee to cover the ANFR investigation.