Mon Dieu! French Parent Kills Cell Service For An Entire Town To Stop Kids Surfing

It used to be that having technical skills meant that fixing the computer problems of elderly relatives was a regular occurrence. Over the last few years this has been joined by another request on our time; friends with teenage children requesting help configuring their routers such that Internet access is curtailed when the kids should sleeping. In France a desperate parent took more extreme measures, buying a wideband frequency jammer to ensure les petits anges can’t waste the night away on social media sites through their cellular connections. It had the intended effect, but sadly it also interrupted cellular coverage over a wide area The French spectrum regulator ANFR sent in their investigators (French, Google Translate link), and now the unfortunate parent faces the prospect of up to 6 months imprisonment and €30,000 fine for owning and using a device that’s illegal in France.

A cursory search of everybody’s favourite online electronics bazaars will find plenty of these devices, so perhaps what’s surprising is that we don’t see more of these devices even if it’s not the first tale of interference tracking that we’ve seen. Judging by the strategies our friends with kids take, we’d suggest meanwhile to the unfortunate French person, that they simply equip their kids with restricted data plans.

34 thoughts on “Mon Dieu! French Parent Kills Cell Service For An Entire Town To Stop Kids Surfing

  1. We had a similar situation in my country where the owner of a cinema jammed mobile signals to stop phones ringing during the movies. Unfortunately there easy to buy on ebay and the like and people don’t realise the consequences.

    The outcome was a huge fine and confiscation of the jammer.

  2. When I lived in a dorm in collage, I once built a spark-gap relay oscillator (i.e a relay buzzer) to stop by kid next door from blaring the radio too loud at 7am. For some reason all stations started to have a loud buzz, so he would turn off the radio. Never did find a good way to mask the physical buzzing relay in my room enough to not bother me as much as the radio.

    1. This is quite common these days. One vector is that there are 3 ITU regions in the world with different band plans. So buying a cordless phone or wireless microphone (or headset) from China that is made for Asia, but use it in North America, the frequencies it was manufactured to use might be a cellular band, or worse. Or a self installed and cheap cell phone enhancer that is in self-oscillation.

  3. To bad they could not have turned down the RF so it only worked for maybe 50′. That said, it is illegal to use there, but I did not know that it was illegal to own one — fortunately I do not. The real issue is safety — they jammed all calls to emergency services, so it was a clear health and safety violation. I hope that the judge goes easy on them they were not trying to mess with anyone other than their kids to get them to behave.

  4. What’s wrong with parents doing some parenting, and just taking the phones off the kids? Parents abdicating responsibility is half of why we in the UK are about to get some fun new (and unworkable) laws, leading to some enevitable horrible future privacy breaches…

      1. That’s not about parents abdicating responsibility. Many parents simply don’t have the skills to do this themselves. Yes you can and must have a chat with kids about what’s online, but porn in particular is so pervasive, showing up in results for (seemingly) unrelated terms. And at a young age there’s lots of material they just don’t want to see once.
        Also there’s a huge problem with kids sending explicit material to their peers; you can chat to your kids, but you can’t parent other people’s kids.

        1. True true, but why forced on ISP level where the censoring infrastructure is more easily abused by an overarching (police) state.

          Router default config and if a users does not want the porn blocker they can deactivate it locally.
          But the router should still grab updates to the official public blocker list (which needs to be public so the public can make sure it doesn’t suddenly turn into Golden Shield).
          This could even turn into a somewhat international standard where maybe the router receives the blocker list url from the ISP via TR-69 ?

          1. Ah, because most ISPs already intercept DNS requests and process them themselves, regardless of what DNS server you pass to dig. (Was amazed and angry when I discovered this, but mostly relieved as it meant I hadn’t been going mad for the last hour).

            Ironically, I found this when trying to set up our devices to use a filtered DNS server to block porn/ads/malware. But they intercepted my requests to the filtered DNS and returned results from theirs instead.

            Not sure why they do it, but probably originally for caching? Anyway, means they’ve already got the infrastructure to do it. Plus they’ve usually got an online account interface you can configure it, or phone support who can do it for you.

            If it’s on your router, then people have to figure out how to configure it themselves, or worse the ISP is pushing config to your router. Plus home routers aren’t historically that powerful, though that might be different now.

            Apple’s privacy-respecting filters could be the solution in the future, and would be much better as the device can detect stuff sent via “safe” sites like messaging services.

            I agree about the risk of the government misusing the ability to filter, but frankly if they want to do that, they can already (I believe they do), they don’t need this move to do it.

          2. Porn blocker list? Router?

            Three generations of horny teens laugh at your pitiful attempt.
            When I was a kid, we printed our porn on greenbar, with daisywheel printers, and we liked it.

        2. it’s so pervasive because it has to be evasive, because it gets cracked down on if it tries to use the proper flagging systems ostensibly put in place to keep you from getting to it by accident that it has the opposite effect of being unlabelled and ungated because the labels and gates prevent the people who know and want to reach it from finding it (this is not about kids lying about age, that’s another conversation entirely, this is about consenting adults looking for legal porn)

        3. Sorry Dan but its 100% abdication of responsibility.

          It is a parent’s responsibility to ensure their children are being looked after and consider their welfare.
          If they dont understand a concept then they can either educate themselves or ask for help or pay for it.
          But no it’s just easier to blame someone else and get the nanny state to do something about it.

          People taking zero responsibility for themselves is why the UK has so many problems around family, social welfare and people inept at looking after themselves but blaming others form their own so called poverty and that of their children they wont look after properly.

          And if you want to blame other peoples kids, it’s time to name and shame. Simply dont let your children mix with them and out the parents for letting their kids run riot.
          You wouldn’t let your kids mix with other kids committing crimes? (well too many people do) so what is the difference exactly ?

      2. Age verification/ID, yes – we are not just talking about dedicated porn websites, anywhere is could be found *might* come under the new rules once they are finalised, Google, twitter, you name it.

    1. >just taking the phones off the kids?
      Because that’s the wrong way to handle it. Sure, you can take the phone away, but what happens when the kids grow up and won’t have that restriction of parents standing over them anymore? They will be helpless on their own, and that’s when the real problem will begin. Not to mention they’re most probably gonna learn how to deceive you and that opens a whole new can of worms.
      I’m not saying abstinence is completely worthless, it has it uses but that shouldn’t be your main go-to solution. Especially in this case, because technology isn’t something you can just lay off in your life like alcohol od drugs. You need to teach kids moderation rather than abstinence. And to do that, you first need to learn about it yourself. I know it’s an uneven battle, you’re fighting against problems our parent’s didn’t even know about and there are no guidebooks, and if there are some they are at best questionable, but that’s the best you can do. Heck, most psychologists have no clue how to handle issues with modern tech. But there are some, especially younger ones and you need to look out for them.
      tl;dr rather than relying on tech, he should’ve gone to a counselor.

      1. Its no different to kids driving cars, you get TAUGHT to drive, you get TAUGHT the road rules. Same goes for phones, alcohol.

        As a parent you NEED to take control – if the kid shows responsibility you give more freedom.

        No electronic devices in the Bedroom after sleep time. If they need an alarm get an alarm clock.

        Some one needs to pay for the service, if the cant afford it they dont get unfettered access to it.

        If your families lifestyle requires kids to be contactable a basic phone will do the job. Limited access to a shared device to learn the ropes under supervision.

        Its hard and takes time and lots of effort and many battles along the way – but if you dont have time to educate your kids your priorities just might need refining.

        Some kids will just try and deceive you no matter what it is – while taking the washing of the line the oa couple of days ago I noticed my 6 year old trying to sneak past with a small axe he found in the shed..

        1. We turned our kids towards us in the pram and push chair so that we could interact with them, they could read our faces and it would help them to talk. Plus they are part of our family and we want to be involved with them.
          Just makes sense.

          Contrast that with the parents that face them away and shove a tablet in their hand from ages <12months and lack social skills.

          One wonders why some people bother to have children.

    1. My kid’s secondary school officially bans phones. But the teachers ask them to get their phones out in lessons to access online resources, join quizzes the teacher has set, do research, etc.

  5. This becomes a bit more interesting given interment access is becoming more & more widely accepted (& enforced by law) as a basic human right. Or, at the very least, a civil right.

    And it just happens to be that one of the countries that have legally made internet access a basic human right is France (since June 2009).

    Sadly, my own country (New Zealand) has still yet to do anything similar.

  6. If you block one cellular frequency band, there are at least 3 others (usually more) the phone can jump and use. So a lot of jammers work on multiple bands and are shown with multiple antennas (even 10!). The repercussions of using a jammer, where it could work and remain localized, and where it will affect the public at large, is too technical for lay people to understand. And this is why they are illegal in most countries.

    1. What a shame it is that I’m an idiot that hooked up my legal cell phone signal booster wrong and left it in constant feedback.

      Really terrible shame. Especially the kw linear that accidentally got hooked into the circuit. I don’t know who could be behind that. Keep my eye out for her.

  7. Be a parent. THey don’t like it, too bad.
    There were no cellphones when I was a kid.
    Here is a table in the hallway. Here is a camera on the wall.
    The phone will remain on the table, hooked to its charger from the time
    you go to bed until the time breakfast is done.,
    If I wach the playback and see you sneaking to use your phone, you will
    take a hammer, go outside, smash your phone with that hammer and will
    not own another phone until you are of legal age to move out of the house.

    Either that, or get rid of the cell and use a landline at home.
    I don’t care if the other kids make fun of you for not having a cell.
    They’re not the ones paying the bills.

    1. When I was a kid pre-mobile, I took the carpet and floorboards up whilst my parents were out and ran an illicit extension of the landline into my bedroom so I could go blueboxing to BBS’s during the night.
      The 90’s equivalent of a burner cell.

  8. As a French, may I suggest you to check this news’ title, as in French, we put a space after, and before, every “double punctuation”, like colons, semi-colons, interrogation marks, and exclamation marks 👌🧐

  9. This just goes to highlight how reluctant tech companies are to implement functional digital wellbeing features in their gear. This should be _very_ easy. I have a YouTube problem myself and I spent a lot of time looking for ways to allow me to use the app/website only for a limited total amount of time per day. No dice. Had to get a router with openwrt and write an automation rule to allow access only during a brief period per day. Not what i wanted, but sorta gets the job done, still i found no other way to do it. Now add to that the problem of mobile Internet and it’s clear this should be a Client-Side filter, which they just. don’t. want. to. put. in.

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