A group of smaller countries from the European Union (EU), concerned that 5G "fake news" might stymie take-up of the next-gen tech and stall the region's economic growth, has fired off a letter to head honchos from the European Commission (EC): digital chief Margrethe Vestager; internal market commissioner Thierry Breton; and Věra Jourová, vice president of values and transparency.
The letter, seen by Reuters, urges the EC to come up with a strategy to counter what they see as a growing tide of 5G disinformation, which has led to the torching of masts and even assaults on maintenance workers over fears that the technology's radio-frequency electromagnetic fields (EMF) are somehow linked to COVID-19 and other ailments.
"It is clear ... that we are witnessing increasing activity of the anti-5G movement across the European Union," they said.
The letter's signatories urged the EU to "take an active, long-term and systemic approach" to tackle the issue of 5G and EMF disinformation, adding that they were "willing to contribute to this EU-wide initiative with our national expertise and best practice."
Despite the UK topping a list of mast attacks earlier in the year, it is not a signatory to the joint letter. Nor is Germany, France, Italy or Spain, which, together with the UK, make up the EU's "big five" economies.
The 15 countries petitioning the EU on this, according to Reuters, are Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Sweden and Slovakia.
5G dissenters not all wide-eyed lunatics
There is some scientific support for putting the brakes on 5G in Europe. 5G Appeal, launched in 2017 by scientists and doctors to call a halt to 5G rollout on account of "serious potential health effects from this new technology," claims that more than 400 scientists and doctors have now signed the appeal.
It helps explain why the 15 EU countries urged more research on the risks to people's health, as a way to make scientific counter arguments, and suggested a broad debate taking account of the fears and worries of 5G opponents.
How far the EC is willing to go to launch a pan-EU strategic campaign is open to question. It has gone on record previously, as noted by the 5G Appeal website, as saying that the "primary responsibility for protecting the public from potential harmful effects of electromagnetic fields remains with the Member States, including the choice of measures to be adopted based on age and health status."
— Ken Wieland, contributing editor, special to Light Reading