You should never assume that just because ‘the law’ appears to prevent or forbid you from doing something (or indeed allow someone else to do something that you do not like) that you have no redress. Things are not always how they seem. While it is in the interest of local authorities, developers, telecoms companies and any group with an agenda of their own to convince you that the law is on their side and there is nothing you can do about it, this is often not the case. There are many legal avenues by which you may be able to protect yourself or halt them in their tracks.
A talk earlier this month at the EMF Hazard Summit by international attorney and negotiator, Julian Gresser focused on the telecoms industry and protection from excess electromagnetic frequencies/radiation in the USA but the strategies that he outlined could be applied in any situation in which you felt that your rights as a citizen were being infringed or damaged.
What you need to assess and consider
- What rights do you as a citizen actually have around the issue in question?
- What remedies, both legal and practical, are available to you?
- What is the specific context of your issue – is it planned? has it already happened? who are you challenging etc?
Putting this into the context of telecoms/5G/excess radiation
The 1996 Telecommunications Act in the US specifically denies the right to sue for damages on health grounds. The assumption is therefore made that the average citizen has no legal redress against a telecoms company that they believe is threatening the their health or that of their family or their community. This is not true.
Every US citizen has the absolute constitutional right to safety – physical and mental – of themselves, their children and their family and a right to protect their home and their family.
It has not yet been adequately tested in the courts but there is now sufficient scientific evidence of harm from excess electromagnetic frequencies to be able to claim that a telecoms company subjecting you to excess radiation (by the placement of their towers etc) is infringing your absolute right to safety for you and your family. That they are effectively making you ill and even, in an extreme case, killing you.
The right to privacy. Another often overlooked right is that to privacy – the right not to be surveyed. Despite the new data protection laws (rather stronger outside the US than inside it) wireless technology is inherently vulnerable to hacking and privacy breeches. And as space get ever more heavily colonised (without any public scruntiny or control) the danger of privacy breeches grows exponentially.
Rights and disablities
Your individual rights become very much stronger if you have a ‘disability’. Those with disabilities can claim civil rights along with minorities, women, those with different sexual orientation etc and, in the US at least, the term is very wide ranging. It is estimated that up to 40% of the US population has a ‘disability’ and these include, diabetes, cardiac problems and electromagnetic sensitivity. It has, moreover, been scientifically established that excess EMR causes oxidative stress and inflammation which will exacerbate many of the other conditions (such as cardiac stress) which are already classed as disablities.
As a ‘disabled person’ you have right to demand that ‘reasonable accommodation’ should be made for your disablity in terms of planning, installations etc etc. As of now, telecoms companies are refusing to recognise this claiming that their industrial interests are of greater importance than the welfare of the indivdual. However, the civil rights of disabled people are of equal, if not greater importance in the eyes of the law than the industrial interests of the producers.
In the US the legal framework is more complex as not only do you have federal and local laws protecting your rights but you also have state laws which further protect the citizen against trespass (on the air/atmosphere around your property?), assault (does excess radiaton constitute an assault on your person?) and endangering children.
Telecoms companies – and developers of every hue – have to abide by local laws, zoning regulations, procedures, even aesthetic requirements. (And this applies in every country, not just the USA.) These are often complex and developers often get them wrong and can be stopped in their tracks by a relatively trivial infringement.
Your case will be very much stronger if you can prove that you have an ‘aggrieved interest’ – you or your family are being threatened by the proposal, whatever it is. You will also have a much greater chance of success if you are trying to block a proposed development than if you are trying to reverse an existing installation/building.
Rushing it through and picking off the weaklings
Groups, not just telecoms companies, will usually aim to rush their proposals through and will attempt to pick off the opposition piecemeal. (It is far easier to defeat a single objector than a well organised group.) See below for more on this but at a federal level in the US, these tactics are also illegal. Every citizen has the right to require government to go through a full evaluation of any proposal before it is imposed upon them.
The Telecomunications Act, the FCC and the FDA
The Telecommunications Act in the US claims that electromagnetic radiation causes no damage other than excess heating – eg thermal damage.
The FCC (Federal Communication Commission) which has just been lambasted by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia for failing to provide a reasonable explanation for why it had refused to consider the mass of evidence of harm produced by ES campaigners, have admitted that they have no medical competence in this area so they rely on guidance from the FDA (Food and Drug Administration).
But…. The FDA has never decided on an official positon as to whether EMF/EMR cause harm, so have never set any standards. So, effectively, there is no law in this area in the US.
The FDA is currently working to set standards but they are overwhelmed by the evidence, do not know how to assess the dangers or how to deal with them. When they finally do take a position it could entirely change the game.
For a start the burden of proof would shift to the industry rather than the individual. The industry would then have to prove that they were not causing harm, rather than the individual having to prove that they were. This would would provide a strong incentive for the industry to innovate and to move towards safer and more sustainable fibre-optic based connectivity. And, what happens in the US will soon spread.
Essential steps if you want to stage a successful challenge to anything
- Do not assume that you are powerless – you are not.
- Inform yourself. Data is crucial. You must be able to put up a good argument so record all of your own personal experiences, with dates and times, symptoms, doctors visits or whatever is remotely relevant. You also need the data on your exposure (if you are dealing with EMF) – concrete measurements (plenty of meters available) of what you are/have been exposed to.
And read up as widely as you can about the subject. If you are to stage a successful challenge, you must have your facts correct.
- Establish that you have a concrete personal interest in the case. The more personal damage you can show the better chance you have of success.
- Get medical support. If you are dealing with EMR there is increasing expertise in the field of what is now called Clinical electromagnetics, and you need a report from at least one, but ideally two, credible medics.
A doctor does not have to say that your injury or illness was caused by EMR (very few are prepared to do this) but they do need to say that, based on their reading of the literature etc, they believe that exposure is dangerous for you and is making your existing condition/state of health worse.
(An interesting further development in this area comes with the admission by the telecoms industry that 5G radiation penetrates 8.1mm into the skin and that 4G penetrates significantly more deeply at 17.1mm. How does a clinical dermatologist view this? Could it be seen as invasion of the rights of your skin?)
- Create alliances. Talk to your neighbours, share experiences. Create a group. It is much more difficult for a court to ignore, or a company pick off, a well organised articulate group than a single complainant.
- Get good legal advice. This is a complex area and you do not want to ruin a good case by not understanding how the law works. There are an increasing number of legal firms who are interested in these areas and will take up your case pro bono or for very little money.
- Always go for an injunction on the grounds that it is putting you/your family in serious danger or life of limb. This will halt all proceedings and throw the burden of proof back onto the company to prove that they are not endangering you rather than you having to prove that they are.
- Do not assume that either the companies or the authorities that you are dealing with are monolithic. They are always made up of many different groups, who often do not agree. Chip away by finding one group, no matter how small who might be more sympathetic. Once one sub group starts to question ‘group think’ others are more likely to follow.