FCC investigating Amazon and other retailers over alleged sale of banned products

Amazon and other retailers are facing an FCC probe over the alleged sale of banned jamming equipment

Amazon and other retailers are under investigation by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for allegedly marketing and selling banned equipment.

The investigation concerns the marketing and selling of illegal electronic devices, including radio frequency jammers, according to a report by NBC News that said it found nine independent sellers on Amazon recently selling jammers.

The outlet previously reported that several online retailers and drone technology companies were marketing radio frequency jammers as drone deterrence or privacy tools, which violate federal laws that prohibit such devices from being sold to U.S. consumers. The devices can be used to disable security cameras and block Wi-Fi networks, as well as to disrupt other communications and signals.

"We have several ongoing investigations into retailers, including Amazon, for potential violations of Commission rules related to the marketing and sale of equipment without proper FCC authorization," the FCC told FOX Business in a statement.

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The Federal Communications Commission is investigating Amazon and other retailers over the alleged sale of banned equipment. (Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Amazon did not immediately respond to FOX Business' request for comment.

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The FCC's website states that the "operation, manufacture, importation, marketing, and sale of equipment designed to jam or otherwise interfere with authorized radio communications, such as radar, global positioning system (GPS), and cellphone communications" are banned under the Communications Act of 1934, as amended.

It adds that, "These jamming devices pose significant risks to public safety and potentially compromise other radio communications services."

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Amazon is reportedly under investigation by the FCC for selling unauthorized jamming equipment. (Sheldon Cooper/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images / Getty Images)

The Communications Act requires a valid FCC authorization or license for radio transmitting equipment, but jamming equipment can't be authorized by the agency because its main purpose is to interfere with radio communications.

The FCC's website also notes that, "As a result of past enforcement efforts, jammers are rarely marketed by domestic entities and are now almost exclusively marketed online by foreign retailers."

An enforcement alert that was last updated by the FCC in April 2020 noted that "jamming devices can prevent you and others from making 9-1-1 and other emergency calls and pose serious risks to public safety communications, as well as interfere with other forms of day-to-day communications."

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FCC Headquarters

The FCC enforces the ban on the sale of jammers under the Communications Act. (REUTERS/Andrew Kelly / Reuters Photos)

It went on to note that there are "no exemptions for use within a business, classroom, residence or vehicle." Local law enforcement agencies don't have independent authority to use jamming equipment and there are certain limited exceptions for use by federal law enforcement entities.

"The use or marketing of a jammer in the United States may subject you to substantial monetary penalties, seizure of the unlawful equipment, and criminal sanctions including imprisonment," the FCC's enforcement bulletin added.

Reuters contributed to this report.