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COVID-19 – UK Government Gets Tough on Criminal 5G Vandals

Monday, April 6th, 2020 (10:29 am) - Score 10,308

Over the past couple of weeks the increasingly absurd anti-5G campaign has taken a chilling turn. Videos have emerged of arson against several UK mobile masts and engineers being abused while doing their jobs. The criminal activity has been fuelled by a bogus conspiracy theory that links the spread of COVID-19 to the 5G roll-out.

The theory itself seems to vary, with some claiming that 5G created or directly transmitted the Coronavirus (biologically impossible) and others suggesting that 5G mobile signals weaken the immune system so as to help the virus spread (such signals simply aren’t anywhere near powerful enough to do that). Both are complete nonsense and ignore the fact that COVID-19 is spreading just as fast in countries and areas with no 5G network at all.

Just to be absolutely clear. A conspiracy theory that steps over the line toward criminality, causing actual harm during a real public health crisis, deserves no oxygen or tolerance. We have previously run a number of articles to help fact check some of the 5G health claims (5G health claims fact check) and strongly recommend those with a concern take the time to both read and understand those.

On top of that Ofcom recently found no cause for concern when testing 5G emissions (here) and the International Commission on Non‐Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) has just completed a long-running review of recent scientific evidence, which similarly found no major concerns and only made minor tweaks to guidance for handsets (here).

Unfortunately some of the anti-5G claims have recently been amplified by social media endorsements from celebrities (e.g. Amanda Holden, Woody Harrelson etc.). However, one sure way to actually hurt people is by breaking the law, committing arson and cutting off the ability of people to communicate with family and friends during a national and global health crisis.

Statement from Trade Body Mobile UK

Our networks provide essential connectivity to our emergency services and the NHS; they enable families to check in on their isolated or vulnerable loved ones; parents to teach their children from home; and millions to be informed and entertained as they stay home.

We are 100% focused on making sure the UK’s mobile and broadband networks are resilient, ensuring you, your families and businesses, can keep connected when you need it most.

Sadly, we have experienced cases of vandals setting fire to mobile masts, disrupting critical infrastructure and spreading false information suggesting a connection between 5G and the COVID-19 pandemic. There is no scientific evidence of any link between 5G and coronavirus. Fact.

Stopping this is critical is critical to keeping your communities connected.

Not only are these claims baseless, they are harmful for the people and businesses that rely on the continuity of our services. They have also led to the abuse of our engineers and, in some cases, prevented essential network maintenance taking place.

Please help us to make this stop. If you witness abuse of our key workers please report it. If you see misinformation, please call it out. Your help will make a real difference.

Thank you for your support as we work together to keep our nation connected.

Signed: O2, Three UK, Vodafone and EE (BT)

In response Ofcom last week began warning media publications that they would face sanctions if found to be spreading the conspiracy claims. The UK Government, as well as the European Union, have now gone further by opening virtual meetings with social networks (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter etc.) in the hopes of encouraging them to act against such material on their internet platforms. A few have already begun to remove related content.

Statement from the GSMA

Our vision at the GSMA is to unlock the power of connectivity so that people, industry and society thrive. We must unite in the global fight against COVID-19 and combat the fake news and violent actions linking 5G communications technology to the spread of the virus. This disinformation campaign is inciting fear, aggression, and vandalism against the critical infrastructure and essential maintenance workers who are keeping our public services connected, as well as our economy running.

The GSMA calls on internet giants, content providers and social media platforms to accelerate their efforts to remove fake news linking 5G to the spread of COVID-19. Full Fact, the UK’s independent fact-checking charity has confirmed that there is no link between 5G and COVID-19. We also urge governments around the world to take swift action against disinformation, vandalism and threats against mobile network field engineers.

Meanwhile the Director of NHS England, Stephen Powis, said: “The 5G story is complete and utter rubbish. It is nonsense – the worst kind of fake news. The reality is that the mobile phone networks are absolutely critical to all of us, particularly in a time when we are asking people to stay at home and not see relatives and friends.

The UK Government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) similarly added: “We are aware of inaccurate information being shared online about 5G. There is absolutely no credible evidence of a link between 5G and coronavirus.

Dr Simon Clarke, Associate Professor of Cellular Microbiology (University of Reading), said (BBC):

“The idea that 5G lowers your immune system doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. Your immune system can be dipped by all sorts of things – by being tired one day, or not having a good diet. Those fluctuations aren’t huge but can make you more susceptible to catching viruses. … [the energy levels from] 5G radio waves are tiny and they are nowhere near strong enough to affect the immune system. There have been lots of studies on this.”

Conspiracy theories pop up all the time and some (e.g. the Flat Earth theory) tend to be more humorous than hurtful, while others can quickly become dangerous (e.g. Anti-Vaxxers), not least by causing otherwise normal people to make some very bad or even fatal decisions. Sadly it looks like a growing number of people within the anti-5G campaign may be fast falling into the latter group.

The move to link COVID-19 to 5G is only the latest in a long line of increasingly bizarre claims against mobile technology. We await the day when somebody blames the death of Elvis (allegedly..) or Princess Diana on 5G or perhaps links it to the spread of AIDS and EBOLA (note to 5G truthers: please don’t use those).

Sadly the more ridiculous and amplified the claims, the harder it often becomes for common sense, reason and real science to win through.

NOTE: We’ve taken the rare action of disabling comments on this news item in order to avoid such conspiracy theorists from abusing the system in order to spread sick disinformation about COVID-19.

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