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The Courts Wireless Networking Your Rights Online

Wi-Fi Illness Claim Doesn't Impress New Mexico Court 217

Posted by timothy
from the show-me-the-blind-test dept.
McGruber writes "Arthur Firstenberg, the Santa Fe, New Mexico man who sued his neighbors, claiming their Wi-Fi made him sick, has lost what might have been his final round in court. According to the Santa Fe New Mexican, state District Judge Sarah Singleton ruled that no scientific study has yet proved that electromagnetic stimulus adversely impacts personal health. While he lost the lawsuit, he did score a victory: the neighbors he sued have moved out of Santa Fe."
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Wi-Fi Illness Claim Doesn't Impress New Mexico Court

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  • Simple question... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Joce640k (829181) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @10:31AM (#41399033) Homepage

    Have they found an 'electrosensitive' who's prepared to go double-blind on which of a selection of ten telephones/routers is actually switched on yet?

    A certain Mr Randi has a million dollars waiting for the first person to do it. Maybe he should apply for that so he can buy a new house in the woods (or even buy the neighbors house and make them go someplace else). Problem solved.

  • by firex726 (1188453) <firex726@@@yahoo...com> on Thursday September 20, 2012 @10:33AM (#41399051)

    If he actually did feel any symptoms they would probably just psychosomatic.

    TBH I would not be surprised if there was some feud between them and he just went full retard. Someone who sues because of WiFi probably is not entirely there to begin with.

    Wasn't there also some public school district that was suffering legal trouble from the same claims?

  • by slim (1652) <`ten.puntrah' `ta' `nhoj'> on Thursday September 20, 2012 @10:41AM (#41399175) Homepage

    I will offer my entire life's savings to anyone who can tell, greater than random chance, whether a device is on or off.

    Randi's already offered $1M.

    But these people are wackos. They don't understand why a 50% detection rate demonstrates nothing.

  • Re:yay (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 20, 2012 @10:45AM (#41399237)

    The case was won for the wrong reason though. Why would hospitals worry about the dose of X-rays they give you if "no scientific study has yet proved that electromagnetic stimulus adversely impacts personal health"?

  • by RogueyWon (735973) * on Thursday September 20, 2012 @11:11AM (#41399667) Journal

    Went through something similar (though it didn't go to court) in my old flat, which I moved out of earlier this year. Middle-aged couple living downstairs, got on fine with them for years, then the woman's late-teenaged daughter from a previous marriage gets kicked out by her father and moves in with them in the summer of last year (putting 3 people in a flat which is, to be honest, a little small for one person and downright cramped for 2).

    This is one deeply troubled youth - clear mental health problems and surrounded by a constant stench of strong cannabis. She can also - in her mothers' eyes, do no wrong. Anyway, my life very quickly becomes absolute hell. First it's the complaints about noise. I take these seriously at first and do everything I can to limit the noise I'm making. Doesn't help, indeed she calls the police on multiple occasions, though they don't actually do anything. She loses access that particular trick after she calls the police over a weekend when I'm away visiting my parents - they force open the door to my flat and find it empty. After that, they stopped responding to her calls.

    Anyway, in the course of this, she gets to see inside my flat (while I'm not there, imagine how delighted I am) - and she notes the fairly large amount of electronic equipment. Her next move - a phone call to the council complaining that interference from the electronics in my flat is giving her headaches.

    I get a very puzzled call from an environmental health officer. He's very apologetic about the whole thing and freely admits that he has no idea whether he has any legal basis to do anything. By this point, I've already got my escape in sight - I've finally, after 4 years, been able to save for the deposit needed to get a mortage and out of rental accomodation (and to move to a much better area in the process). So I'm quite prepared to be all reasonable and light. We agree that he can come and inspect my flat for anything that might be emitting either outside of the allowed spectrum, or high-pitched noises outside the normal hearing range (which can be a genuine issue for teenagers and for some adults - like me!).

    Anyway, he comes, he waves a toolkit around and he agrees that there's absolutely nothing out of the ordinary. He sends my neighbours a letter telling them this. He and I then get a very angry letter back (or rather, he gets a letter, I get a copy pushed through my letterbox with something obscene scribbed on it as well) saying that, among other things, my wireless network is "beaming words through her head".

    Two days later, I load my possessions into a van and move off to my new home. I've not seen or heard from her since. I still see my old upstairs neighbour, who works at a station I pass through on my morning commute (and who I always got on very well with). He tells me that she continues to make life unbearable for the new occupants of my old flat and has started to turn her attention to him as well.

    It would have been interesting on one level to see what would have happened if I hadn't been in a position to move out - but I'm glad I didn't have to find out.

    By the way, this all happened in London, so it's definitely not a US-only phenomenon.

  • by RogueyWon (735973) * on Thursday September 20, 2012 @11:48AM (#41400287) Journal

    Yes, quite, I can also hear those mosquito devices, despite being well up into my 30s. When I was in my teens, my dad was a director in a small business that sold, serviced and provided training for medical electronics. It was a very small company and even the directors did a bit of hands-on engineering, so our garage was often full of bits of medical kit.

    There was one weekend that I spent seriously ill - headaches, nausea, dizziness. Eventually, I tracked it down to a monitor in the garage. My dad didn't want to believe me, but it was proven int he end.

    So when this came to a head earlier this year, I was actually perfectly happy to have my flat checked to see whether there was something even further up the range beyond what I could hear - but we proved that there wasn't.

    And yes, I would not be the slightest bit surprised if this were behind at least some of the complaints of "magical computer waves give me headaches".

  • by firex726 (1188453) <firex726@@@yahoo...com> on Thursday September 20, 2012 @12:12PM (#41400659)

    There is also a sizable population of mental patients who think they are Joan or Ark or Napoleon.
    Good thing physics does not care how many people believe in something.

    How do they account for background radiation, or all the other various EM radiation we're exposed to every day?
    Do they live in some kind of 100% perfect Faraday cage that blocks all forms of radiation; because I know some physicists that would love to get their hands on a building material that could do that.

  • by Maxmin (921568) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @12:37PM (#41401045)

    Grant that, a dosage of wifi-wavelength radio emissions of sufficiently high wattage and duration, aimed at his cranium, *would* cause this man some mental health issues.

    But people like this neglect to consider a little something I like to call the "inverse square law." Not to mention multiple layers of sheetrock and other possible cladding on the domicile.

    Recently in San Francisco I saw a sign on a house with the text "Electromagnetic Harassment" in a red circle-slash, with lightning bolt symbols around the head of a stick figure man that was falling backwards. Wish I'd taken a picture.

  • Crazy Santa Fe (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 20, 2012 @12:40PM (#41401091)

    I live in Santa Fe and I work for a WISP so I deal with wireless interference all the time. Santa Fe is blanketed by WiFi as well as WiMAX, that's not counting the 50000 watt radio transmitter overlooking the city, nor is it taking into account the wireless signals used by the city, county, state, and Federal government. And don't get me started about Los Alamos National Labs not far from here which is constantly blasting out radio waves of every imaginable frequency and strength. Yet, we here in Santa Fe have a small but very vocal group of crackpots who insist upon putting the kibosh any any sort of wireless initiative, be it cellular, WiFi, WiMAX, etc, etc, some on the City Council listen to them, but anybody with a brain calls them what they are, crazy. This court ruling hopefully will show how shallow their claims truly are. Without a shred of solid evidence, nobody will, nor should they, take them seriously.

  • by goombah99 (560566) on Thursday September 20, 2012 @02:20PM (#41402535)

    It has been demonstrated in the lab that exposure to terrhertz radiotion causes non-thermal changes in cellular development and signalling. a theoretical mechanism modeled and shows that low level terrahertz is capable of resonantly exciting bends and strand openings in Double stradded DNA. Since those are in fact the primary mechanisms of signal transduction at the molecular level it would not be surprising if this was the explanation for the experimental observations. However these studies are still at the preliminary stages. they are peer reviewed but there has not been a lot of other investigators yet to isolate and confirm the phenomena. Just a growing body of not fully chartcterized and explained observational phenonema of strong changes in cell regulation under low dose terrahertz. It has been noted to be frequency dependent which both is in line with the reonant effects argument and also could be why it is hard to study at this stage in a reproducible manner in different labs.

    The reason this model is interesting is that, just as X-rays were thought safe until the mechanism of amplified effects from DNA damage became accepted, the problem is that terrhertz are individually too low in energy to break chemical bonds. Thus if there is means of affecting cells it has to be resonant, high field gradient effects, or something that works at a vibrational or rotational level in cells. All of these might have very different depths of penetration in multi-celluar organisms and their affects might be very indirect.

    so it's not implausible, but is very murky.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 20, 2012 @03:13PM (#41403253)

    interesting point as he self admits dizziness and vertigo (although for an unconfirmed reason) I would look to get his driving licence removed as a matter of public safety

    can you also counter sue for legal costs and related expenditure?

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