An Interesting Integrity Challenge

5:00 PM -- I was speaking recently with an entrepreneur who builds jamming equipment about a lawsuit he'd filed to allow state and local officials to purchase such equipment. At present, only the federal government can do jamming; they own the airwaves, after all. Such jamming could be useful, however, in thwarting bombs and other threats triggered by cellular-delivered signals, which have been used by some terrorists. The idea would be to allow state and local first-responders to be able to draw an electronic curtain if they felt the need. Note that such jamming would also disable nearby legitimate cell phone users as well, so such a step is not to be taken lightly.

This led to an idea on my part to build jammers into WiFi access points, on the assumption that WiFi is going to be ubiquitous in areas where terrorists are likely to want to strike, and one could then just flip a switch and -- voila! -- an electronic curtain with no need to deploy anything in real time. We still have the jurisdictional issue noted above, but I leave that to the lawyers.

Anyway, I was getting ready to file such a patent when I just happened to be visiting with the folks at Lepidoptera Graphics , the graphic artists who designed the Farpoint Group logo and who have done a very nice design for our Web page (yes, really, we're going to have one, really, any minute now). I mentioned (under NDA, of course), the jamming idea to Ed Council, the Business Manager at Lepidoptera. Ed is a techie who still writes code, and he brought up something I'd not thought about: Suppose the terrorist device is designed to be triggered by the jammer, and not the cellular or WiFi signal?

Another great patent down the drain. Upon further research, I'm assured by terrorism experts that most terrorists lack the skill to design a radio that can be triggered by a jammer. I'd feel better if that were "all," but such is life in modern times.

— Craig Mathias is Principal Analyst at the Farpoint Group , an advisory firm specializing in wireless communications and mobile computing. Special to Unstrung

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