Eliminating Digital Discrimination For the ENS Disabled

Susan Foster, Odette J. Wilkins

According to Amnesty International “discrimination occurs when a person is unable to enjoy his or her human rights or other legal rights on an equal basis with others because of an unjustified distinction made in policy, law or treatment.” “Indirect discrimination is when a law, policy, or practice is presented in neutral terms (that is, no explicit distinctions are made) but it disproportionately disadvantages a specific group or groups.” “Direct discrimination is when an explicit distinction is made between groups of people that results in individuals from some groups being less able than others to exercise their rights.”

“Digital discrimination” usually refers to bias built into algorithmic systems, such as in Internet search engines such as Google or Yahoo, “which gives rise to various forms of ‘digital discrimination.’” The Federal Communications Commission’s Notice of Inquiry uses the phrase in a different sense: it focuses on whether there is systemic discrimination in access to the “high-quality, affordable broadband” that allows people to use and enjoy the Internet. FCC DEI NOI ¶¶1, 2. This paper demonstrates that those who are disabled by injuries caused by wireless radiation suffer from both algorithmic and access-based digital discrimination, sometimes directly and sometimes indirectly. The Commission has significantly contributed to this discrimination, at times knowingly so.

There is a large and diverse community of individuals who significantly suffer from wireless radiation exposure from wireless base stations, cell phones and other telecommunications infrastructure and devices. Many have symptoms that give rise to “impairment[s] that substantially limit[] one or more major life activities” 42 U.S.C. §12102(1)(A). Although there are various names for the condition, a common term is electro-magnetic sensitivity (EMS). Those with severe symptoms are “EMS disabled.”

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