The FCC is investigating Amazon over the alleged marketing and sale of outlawed products

Michael Nagle

The Federal Communications Commission said Wednesday that it is investigating Amazon and other retailers for the alleged marketing and selling of unlawful electronic devices, including radio frequency jammers.

The FCC does not always disclose ongoing investigations. It did so in a statement to NBC News after the news organization reported that some retailers and drone technology companies were marketing jammers online, despite FCC warnings that jammers are illegal.

“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,” FCC spokesperson Jonathan Uriarte said in the statement. He said he had no further details to share immediately.

NBC News reported earlier Wednesday that a variety of companies were marketing signal jammers online. They included Amazon third-party sellers, separate online stores based in China and small domestic companies that specialize in drone-related equipment.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday regarding the FCC’s statement about its investigations.

Jammers have many possible uses, including to keep away unwelcome drones, disable security cameras and block Wi-Fi networks.

But they can also interfere with emergency communications, normal phone use and critical infrastructure such as airport navigation systems, according to the FCC and outside experts. The FCC says the manufacture, importation, sale or offer for sale of jamming equipment violates the Communications Act of 1934. Not even local police are allowed to use them.

NBC News found nine independent sellers on Amazon recently offering “jammer” devices for sale. All nine product listings disappeared from Amazon within two days after NBC News contacted the Seattle-based retailer. Amazon confirmed in an email earlier this month that its policies prohibit jamming devices and said it continuously monitors its marketplace to prevent third-party sellers from listing banned products.

Amazon did not offer an explanation for how the nine sellers got past the company’s monitoring.

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