As campaigns to encourage patrons to switch their phones to silent, or turn them off altogether have failed, French Industry Minister, Patrick Devedjian has approved a decision made by the country’s Telecommunications Regulation Authority to allow public performance spaces to use mobile phone jamming devices.
The devices will be installed in cinemas, theatres and concert halls to prevent calls from reaching the audience. Understandably, there is a proviso that emergency calls will be allowed through without interference.
The move is the result of years of disruption caused by people forgetting to switch their mobiles off in cinemas and theatres, or even just leaving them on and taking calls and was first suggested back in 2001. The Autorité de Régulation des Télécommunications has drawn up technical standards for the jammers’ safe deployment.
Mobile jammers had previously been illegal in France, with culprits fancying a bit of quiet facing six months in prison or a €30,000 (UK£26,640) fine. Though mobile phone jammers are currently illegal in the UK, a small number of hotels in the UK have been accused of employing the devices to force residents to use the hotel’s (expensive) telephone services.