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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Update - WIFI in schools in ISRAEL

Background
In the last 2 years, the ministry of education have being deploying wireless routers and laptops to schools in ISRAEL. What started as an experiment in 20 schools, with wireless internet and laptops, became a wide deployment of wireless routers and in more then 1000 schools so far.

In the picture a wireless router in a kindergarten in Israel 

Committee after Committee
During the last 2 years there have been several committees, including the ministry of education, ministry of health and ministry of environmental protection, that reviewed the exposure to none ionizing radiation in schools. These committees issue several reports that "recommended wired network" but did not ban wireless networks and laptops all together. One of the last committees moved the decision (and responsibility ) to the headmaster of the school.

Recommend wired, not banning WIFI
This was smart, saying "we recommend wired network", while the ministry of education gave the principal only one option, wireless. Most of the WIFI network were deployed this last summer, in a harry, with no other option given to the principals.

Communication with the ministry of education
During 2012, we (a group of EHS & EMR awareness activists) communicated with the ministry of education regarding the committees and regarding the deployment of WIFI in schools. This communication lead to some improvement in the committees reports, to the first time that EHS was addressed in a government document in Israel, but failed to bring a formal, full ban of WIFI.

Filling to the supreme court 
After failing to convince the ministry of education to stop the deployment of WIFI in schools and ban the use of WIFI in schools, after all our communication with the ministry came to a dead-end and few days before the start of the new school year, Attorney Michael Bach, representing the "Furom for sane cellphone and wireless use", the "National parents association" and attorney and EHS activist Dafna Tachover, filled to the supreme court with a request to order the ministry of education to stop the deployment and ban use of all WIFI in schools.

The court did not order the ministry to stop, as once, the deployment and to ban WIFI but it also did not dismiss the case. Since then the government responded to the suite generally saying that the suite was premature, with no base and that it has taken all the needed steps to reduce exposure and protect the students and teachers.

Spin: Banning it and allowing it in the same time
The ministry of education also published a final document (01/10/2012) that kind of (we will get to that) ban WIFI in schools, but allowing it in cases that the wired network will cause a physical risk, what? I have been in the computers business for 15 years now and not once I saw a wired network, that was installed currently, creating a physical risk. That was the loophole, all they need now is to say that the wired network is a physical risk and boom, WIFI is OK, and minutes after WIFI is deployed.
In this document there are also instruction to run safety radiation tests before and after WIFI was installed. the thing it that the Israeli standard (10% of ICNIRP) is too high and it does not protect normal people from everyday exposure, and does not protect EHS people from immediate exposure.

This week - The reply to the court
This week Attorney Michael Bach send his response to the government reply in which he describes the steps we took before applying to the court, the way that the ministry of education is deploying WIFI while it "recommend" on wired network, reports from parents that WIFI was deployed in their kids schools. In the reply  Attorney Michael Bach that there is no such case when good old fasion wired internet can create a physical risk, and that schools was get the approval of the parents before deliberately exposing their kids to none ionizing radiation.

More details in  a post by Dafna Tachover (press here)... 

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