To Mayor de Blasio, Hilary Meltzer, NYC Law Department, Donovan Richards, Jr., Chair of the NYC Council Environmental Protection Committee, and to Whom It May Concern at the NY State Attorney General, the NY State Division of Human Rights(NYSDHR) (OR NYC Human Rights Commission- this letter can be appended to complaint forms or emailed on its own):
I am writing to file a formal complaint against the city of New York and the NYC Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) which has announced that they will be converting the 7,500 payphones into wireless hotspots on the street and adding an additional 2,500 wireless hotspots. DoITT refused to entertain comment about having wired kiosks instead of wireless ones; the former would not be discriminatory. The proposal would run afoul of the ADA, the NYC Human Rights Law and the New York State Human Rights Law; and city officials who authorize this scheme would be committing Public Endangerment in the Second Degree.
Hotspots are higher powered than routers, and if they are put on the street, it will affect the ability of people to walk down the sidewalk where they are located. Currently, people with electromagnetic sensitivities can access buildings (including residences) in NY that are not too close to a cell transmitter and if the institution turns off the Wi-Fi in the vicinity or the premises are shielded from neighbors’ Wi-Fi. If a hotspot is put on the street near a home or critical institution to be accessed, many people will not be able to access the sidewalk to access the building in question without getting serious symptoms and violating doctors’ orders.
The NYC Human Rights Law also covers a wide swath of the population besides people with electromagnetic sensitivities; namely, many other medical conditions and pregnant women. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) has stipulated that individuals with most medical conditions should avoid exposure to Radiofrequency Radiation. In June the epidemiologist Devra L. Davis, the pediatric neurologist Maya Shetreat-Klein and the OB-GYN Hugh Taylor held a press conference stating the need for pregnant women to reduce exposure to radiofrequency radiation and proximity to routers; a hotspot on the street is a high-powered router. http://www.babysafeproject.org/news-conference/
If the hotspot plan were to be rolled out, pregnant women, as well as people with electromagnetic sensitivities and most medical conditions would not be able to heed the advice of their own physicians. Under the NYC Human Rights Law, these groups are entitled to accommodation; how would the city provide it after a forced rollout of discriminatory devices on the street?
In practice DoITT cannot turn off the hotspots once they are installed- even if they could, would someone have to call and say, I am going to be on such and such a street at such and such a time, please turn off the hotspots? The concept is on its face absurd, and the answer is no, DoITT wouldn’t be able to accommodate.
As it is now, there are subway stops, some city parks, the area around Google, etc, that are inaccessible to people because they have been turned into Wi-Fi hotspots.
Right now- Wi-Fi is largely contained within buildings; putting it in the public square would make the commons increasingly inaccessible to a statistically significant number of people; the California State Department of Health indicates that 3% the population is sensitive to electromagnetic fields; this was stated in a report that is now 12 years old; independent studies show the numbers may be higher. The EU says that the number of people with electromagnetic sensitivities is growing exponentially because of exposure to Wi-Fi and the like. A paper by Oberfeld and Hallberg supports this assertion by the EU.
The Access Board in conjunction with the National Institute of Buildings sciences put out a report in 2005 that stipulated Wi-Fi should be confined within a building by foil-backed drywall, not spilling freely into the building, and that fiber optic (hard wired) connectivity is preferred in any event. If there are hotspots on the street, then how could accommodation possibly be achieved? How would some people get access to their own apartment building if a high-powered hotspot were parked on the street outside their home?
In addition, there are privacy implications; DoITT’s RFP discussed “sensor” technology and since then DoITT rolled out Titan/Gimbal beacon technology to track peoples’ movements and smartphone activity without any authority or approval.
Therefore, I respectfully request that you intervene to file an injunction against the city of New York and DoITT so that these hotspots are not rolled out into the street and before DoITT expends millions of dollars on an unlawful scheme.
In addition, the NYC Council Environmental Protection Committee and the Franchise and Concessions Review Committee (FCRP) should hold immediate hearings to air the legal, health and environmental implications of DoITT’s plan.
Very Truly Yours
(ok if non-NYC resident if you travel to NY, intend to travel to NY, and won’t be able to travel to NY as a result of this or will be impacted if you have to go to NYC. If you would not be directly affected in that you don’t have a current somatic reaction/doctors’ orders to avoid, but are concerned about impact over time, use form #2 & send emails per #4 and #5. and sign the petition per #7)