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EU must counter 5G misinformation; 15 countries sign joint letter

Image credit: REUTERS/Hannah McKay

The EU has been told it must counter disinformation relating to 5G or risk damaging efforts to get economies back on track following coronavirus-induced lockdowns.

A joint letter signed by 15 countries across the European Union - including Poland, Sweden and Greece - puts forward their concerns that the “anti-5G movement” is gathering momentum across Europe.

Conspiracies over the introduction of 5G networks have been gaining traction on social media platforms in recent months. They even include theories that the coronavirus epidemic could be linked to the new networks in some way.

The proliferation of such theories, none of which have any grounding in scientific study, have led to real-world consequences, including repeated arson attacks on 5G mobile phone masts across the UK and the rest of Europe.

An Ofcom survey in April suggested that 5G misinformation had become the most common false information seen by Britons.

Both YouTube and Facebook have been forced to crack down on content promoting the unsubstantiated claims, although the former said it would not remove all content related to it.

“It is clear ... that we are witnessing increasing activity of the anti-5G movement across the European Union,” the joint letter, which has been seen by Reuters, reads. It calls for the EU to “take an active, long-term and systemic approach” to tackling concerns about 5G and electromagnetic fields (EMF).

“We, as Member States are willing to contribute to this EU-wide initiative with our national expertise and best practice to tackle the issue of 5G and EMF disinformation.”

The countries called for more scientific research on the risks 5G could pose to people's health and has proposed an awareness-raising campaign across Europe.

The new 5G networks have been touted as a major way to spur the recovery after many countries' economies were badly affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

A report by Vodafone found that, over the next decade, 5G could benefit the UK economy by as much as £158bn due to the creation of new jobs and business opportunities. 5G is being positioned as a technology that could particularly benefit enterprise versus 4G, which had a greater impact in the consumer space.

Other signatories to the letter include Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Portugal and Slovakia.

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