A South Australian council has been forced to reassure its residents that Elon Musk is not attaching mind-control microchips to their brains, and that it is not installing killer 5G towers.
Salisbury city council has been targeted by people spreading a range of false claims about its smart infrastructure program, which uses a range of technologies to, for example, let council workers know when bins are full or tell residents if there is parking available.
A group gathered at the council chambers on Tuesday night to protest against the use of CCTV cameras – an action that drew criticism from police for diverting them from fighting crime.
The deputy mayor, Chad Buchanan, said the council had to go on the record to dispel the misinformation being spread. The council then passed a motion confirming “for the avoidance of any doubt” that:
“Council has not and will not [install] smart technology ‘on behalf of powerful globalist bankers that have infiltrated all councils’.”
“Council has not and will not … ‘rollout any agenda to create a new One World Government as part of the Great Reset’.”
“Council has not and will not support the rollout [of] any adverse elements referenced in the fictional novels, George Orwell’s 1984 or Animal Farm.”
“Council has not and will not support 5G towers to be used ‘to kill or maim people’.”
“Council confirms that it is not aware of ‘a microchip that Elon Musk has produced which he has inserted or is in the process of inserting and/or attaching to residents’ brains to control the community’.”
Other claims the council was forced to debunk include that it was going to introduce digital currency, restrict residents’ travel through “climate change lockdowns”, that it was using facial recognition technology in CCTV cameras and was planning to create a social credit score system similar to China’s “Orwellian” national structure.
Buchanan told ABC radio it was a “bizarre” situation with people spreading “rightwing conspiracies”.
“So it was important that we, as a council, had to go on the record and dispel these myths and untruths and more importantly reinforce to our community that we are by no means doing any of those things listed in the motion,” he said.
He said some residents were scared to leave their houses.
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“I had a resident email me saying that they have been told, and genuinely believe, that the poles in John Street are fitted with 5G technology to have the capacity to kill and maim people. And told us that we will be held accountable for murdering people,” he said.
Buchanan said he had also been called a “lizard man” and that he had been told “the point that I’m making is something somebody would say if their cover had been blown”.
No Smart Cities Action Group (Noscag) distributed tens of thousands of leaflets to residents claiming the council was creating an “open air prison” through smart city technology. It urged residents to have a “massive presence” at this week’s council meeting to protest.
Noscag was using a video created by the South Australian senator Alex Antic in the material it was distributing until Antic, who has nothing to do with the group, asked them to remove it.
Noscag’s spokesman, Grant Harrison, said some but not all of the claims mentioned in the council’s motion were believed by Noscag.
“I’m not making any assumptions about the truth or falsity of any statements,” he said.
“What evidence does the council have that they come up with the conclusion that something is false?
“I’m not saying they’re true or false. They’re putting them there assuming they’ve dealt with it. I believe that some of the councillors may not know the full story.”
Guardian Australia has contacted Musk for comment.