Broadband internet expansion for two PA communities delayed thanks to 5G conspiracy theorists

Aerial Perspective Over Downtown City Center York Pennsylvania at Sunset. (Photo: Chris Boswell / Getty Images)

By Sean Kitchen

March 1, 2024

Residents in York City and Hanover Township wanted broadband expansion in their communities, but anti-5G conspiracy theorists have delayed the wifi expansion for months.

Conspiracy theorists who believe that 5G internet access causes severe health effects derailed broadband expansion in York City and Hanover Township, according to the York Dispatch.

The York Dispatch originally reported in December that a group of conspiracy theorists were granted a 15-minute meeting with the York County Commissioners and other government and business leaders from the region.

However, that meeting may have violated that state’s Sunshine Act because the meeting wasn’t properly advertised.

“The fact that the call took place creates potential Sunshine Act liability, not the fact that the call wasn’t released,” Melissa Melewsky, a media law counselor with the Pennsylvania News Media Association, told the outlet.

“This was, apparently, a quorum discussion of agency business that took place outside a public meeting. The call is the Sunshine Act issue; releasing the call at a later date would not fix the Sunshine Act problem.”

The meeting included a short presentation made by the anti-wifi activists and following the presentation York County Commissioner Doug Hoke thanked the conspiracy theorists for this new information.

“I appreciate the information,” Hoke said. “As I said before, this isn’t my area of expertise but it’s interesting to learn about this.”

At one point, Jolie Diane, who gave the anti-5G presentation, was presented with credible evidence from Silas Chamberlain, the county’s expert that wifi from the York Economic Alliance, doesn’t cause adverse health effects. She responded by doubting the validity of science according to the York Dispatch.

“We don’t have to stand for having these outdated guidelines, we can put in something now to protect us,” she said. “Otherwise, we’re going to get more violence, we’re going to get more mental health issues. That’s what is associated with the brain.”

The anti-wifi conspiracy theorists were successful in delaying broadband expansion in York City and Hanover for the foreseeable future. The plan was to place wifi emitters in York and Hanover to reduce barriers according to Chamberlin.

“The idea of the Wi-Fi network was simply to provide base-level service in the area where people face many barriers,” Chamberlain said. “When we did our outreach to stakeholders in the city of York and Hanover and surrounding areas … they were asking for this. This wasn’t something that we came up with in a vacuum.”


  • Sean Kitchen

    Sean Kitchen is the Keystone’s political correspondent, based in Harrisburg. Sean is originally from Philadelphia and spent five years working as a writer and researcher for Pennsylvania Spotlight.



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