The city of Santa Fe, N.M., is finding itself fighting a group that wants the city to ban wireless Internet signals from public buildings, claiming the signals are making them sick.
The group, calling themselves "electro-sensitive," say they are allergic to the waves generated, and say that Santa Fe's attempt to set up wifi hotspots in public buildings would be a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act. According to USA Today, the group is led by Arthur Firstenberg.
But Firsternberg's been a busy boy. He led a similar effort in Mendocino, Calif., several years ago from which the city and county -- economically hampered by limited cellular and wifi service -- is still trying to recover. The 2002 Wired article also cites him as the head of the Cellular Phone Task Force, an organization that says it's been fighting similar efforts since 1997.
A recent survey of Mendocino residents, featuring 185 responses out of 800 surveys (a 23% response rate, which is pretty good for such things), noted that more than 90% of respondents agreed that high-speed Internet should be available to every home, and that more than 93% agreed that high-speed Internet would make Mendocino County stronger economically.
The Mendocino Coast Broadband Alliance, like many groups trying to bring wireless Internet to rural communities, said it is having enough trouble getting vendor interest and funding for the project, let alone dealing with organized protest groups.
Now, I'd be the last to say that we all know that all technology is safe. Here in Idaho and the Intermountain West is an organization called the Downwinders, which is attempting to get justice now for people suffering from various illnesses due to fallout from nuclear testing in the 1950s. On the other hand, at what point should a small group be able to hold the rest of an area hostage in this way?