Veteran Campaigner Against Stuff Arthur Firstenberg won a case last week, and lost one too, but there won't be much celebrating as even the victory was a false one.
The case he lost started in 2010, when Firstenberg claimed his neighbour's Wi-Fi was sneaking through the mains wires into his house to keep him awake at night. The victory, meanwhile, was a decision in the 2008 case that people with disabilities do need protecting against telecommunications companies – but that case now goes back to the case's original judge, who has already decided that electromagnetic hyper sensitivity isn't a real disability, as the SantaFe New Mexican reports.
Firstenberg argues that hyper-sensitivity to electromagnetic fields is a disability, and therefore the "Americans with Disabilities Act" requires the city of Santa Fe (which is currently deploying Wi-Fi) and AT&T (which would like to upgrade its network) to work around him. An earlier ruling had decreed that the federal Telecommunications Act pre-empted the Disabilities Act, and that ruling has now been overturned, so it comes down to the whether the disability is real.
The judge who will decide on that is, sadly for Firstenberg, the same judge who has just thrown out his case against the girl next door who had been recklessly leaving her iPhone switched on, even at night. Firstenberg sued her, and her landlord, for half a million dollars claiming that the shared mains wiring was enabling signals to sneak between the houses.
Arthur Firstenberg has been fighting against encroaching radio waves for decades, penning a book on the subject back in 1997 and founding the Cellular Phone Taskforce a year earlier. Back in 2008, when the disability angle came to light, we couldn't find the operation's website, but these days it has a presence and Firstenberg even warrants his own Wikipedia entry.
But self promotion doesn’t seem to be the motivation behind these cases, and while Arthur Firstenberg is clearly an unhappy man, it’s a shame he's spending his time litigating. As the neighbour's attorney puts it:
"It seems that Mr Firstenberg has decided to put more effort into litigation than into determining the actual cause of his symptoms, and that’s unfortunate." ®