Access to the internet is now considered a public necessity, similar to water and electricity. People lacking affordable and reliable internet access are at a disadvantage in navigating today’s world, especially in these times of social isolation.
The telecom industry is intent on “bridging the digital divide” to end this inequity. Sounds good at first blush, but unfortunately, the lowest cost internet option – one that is neither safe, environmentally friendly, nor respectful of privacy – is the one being offered. Will this fix the problem or are we rather substituting one disadvantage for another?
Not All Technology Is Created Equal
Internet can be accessed through wired connections such as fiber optics or coaxial cable, or wirelessly via cell towers, 4G/5G antennas and wireless “hot spots” next to homes, and/or via satellites. Wired connections are safer, faster, more cyber secure, energy efficient and reliable than wireless connections. Wireless, however, has one advantage over wired – mobility. You can access the internet wirelessly when out and about, something that cannot be done with a wired connection.
In its haste to “bridge the digital divide” the telecom industry is peddling 4G/5G antennas and wireless hot spots to under-served communities. Most people are unaware there are better ways to connect to the internet from one’s home or business and are oblivious to the harms and risks of these close proximity wireless antennas and hot spots. Thrilled to get online at all, these communities willingly accept telecoms offerings.
The industry is most pleased as their 4G soon to be 5G-wonder child, and its attendant and lucrative promises of data-harvesting, artificial intelligence, surveillance capitalism, “software as a service” all gain another captured market. And an added perk is that industry appears to be fixing a gross injustice. Seemingly, a win/win for all.
So, What Could Be the Problem?
Like many of us, these communities are unaware of the thousands of studies showing both long and short-term health effects from existing 2G, 3G, and 4G technologies, and the dozens of studies showing harm specifically from the millimeter wave frequencies to be used in 5G and the modulations carried along these frequencies. Not to mention the, as yet unstudied other virtuoso technological feats that will likely find their way into the 5G build out.
Similar to the playbook used by tobacco, asbestos, Teflon, and other toxins, the telecom industry has neglected to disclose risks from 5G. Instead, it unabashedly asserts 5G’s safety while providing not a single study to substantiate this claim that runs counter to the consensus of science on wireless health effects.
Internet access may indeed be a public necessity but so is our health. The challenge before us is not simply how to bridge the digital divide, but how to bridge it while preserving our health and that of all other living beings — not to mention our personal privacy, sovereignty and dignity.
Need for Digital Literacy is a Public Necessity
It follows that if internet is a public necessity, an understanding of the pros and cons of different ways of connecting to the internet, aka digital literacy, would also be essential. For without this understanding, people cannot defend their rights, and risk becoming victims of an inequitable system. Without digital literacy, we are seemingly locked into a binary choice: “Do we want 5G or no internet access?” when in truth, there is another option – safe wired internet.
Industry has a moral obligation to not only disclose the risks and benefits of the technologies the public is being offered and exposed to, but to advise people on the safest technology option for any given situation.
Governments have a duty to educate the public, starting with school aged children, on how to connect to the internet in the safest way possible. We all deserve the right to fully informed consumer choices to best protect ourselves, our families, communities, and our collective future on this planet.
Social Injustice in Internet Access
Environmental pollutants have a long and well-documented history of impacting communities of lesser means. In the case of 5G, there is no evidence to date that lower income communities are preferentially being targeted for 5G and that safer wired connections are being withheld.
However, defending against 5G takes lots of money, time, effort and resources, all of which communities of means have access to if they get organized in time and choose to push back against industry’s agenda.
Communities of lesser means cannot afford the luxury of fighting the system. Either they must accept a cell tower antenna outside their bedroom window or no internet connectivity at all — a grim choice indeed.
By Sarah Aminoff, Susan Foster, Kate Kheel
April 14th, 2020
(NB: For the purposes of this statement, 5G includes all iterations of the densification of wireless infrastructure and data transmissions – 4G+, 5GE, and 5G, with and without the addition of millimeter wave frequencies.)
COVID-19 and 5G
As of this date, there is no definitive scientific evidence that COVID-19 is caused by 4G, 5G or other sources of electromagnetic radiation. There is, however, ample evidence that radio-frequency/microwave radiation – aka wireless radiation – from cell towers, cellphones, WiFi, cordless phones, smart appliances, smart homes, smart cities etc. can adversely impact the immune system and overall health. Thus, exposure to electromagnetic radiation is a significant factor to consider when addressing the rapid spread of COVID-19, as well as decisions around the buildout of wireless infrastructure vs. safer wired connections.
History of Electromagnetic Radiation and Health
Radiation exposure has been a concern for health researchers and policy makers beginning with radar during WWII. Yet for the most part, the public remains unaware of the growing body of independent science showing adverse health impacts from wireless radiation.
Since the 1980s, the telecommunications industry has purchased partial or majority ownership privileges in major media outlets. Some outlets previously known for their objectivity have been conspicuously silent about harms from wireless radiation, even as government and independent researchers are finding links between wireless radiation and cancer, neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, birth defects, learning disabilities, headaches, sleep disturbances, and autoimmune disorders. As a result, the public has, for the most part, accepted our wireless world as a convenient and often intriguing way of life, and/or the inevitable way of the future – “Can’t stop progress”. And governments’ collective silence has offered a presumption of safety.
For decades, telecom companies have lobbied their governments to pass laws favorable to industry, including some areas where citizens are even denied the right to object to cell tower placement on the basis of health. We can’t help but ask, “Why would industry influence governments to exempt health issues for wireless facilities if radiofrequency radiation (RFR) is safe?”And we can’t help but notice that 5G infrastructure – a quantum technological leap – is being rolled out around the world at lightning speed before undertaking a single safety study.
Has Electromagnetic Radiation Contributed to the Spread of COVID-19?
Wuhan was one of the first five cities in China to fully implement 4G+/5G and was also a viral hotspot. Were those who lived in Wuhan more vulnerable to COVID-19 due to 5G? What about the Lombardy Region of Italy, South Korea, Spain, and New York? Shelter-in-place measures, urban density, air pollution, public transit, and other factors likely impact the spread or containment of COVID-19. But does 5G contribute above and beyond these factors? Is 5G the proverbial ‘straw that broke the camel’s back’ when added to the many other environmental toxins we are inundated with due to policies that put profit before health and well-being?
There is much research linking wireless radiation with oxidative stress and adverse impacts on immune function (See, 1, 2, 3). Professor Klaus Buchner, physicist in Germany and Member of European Parliament states, “There is clear scientific evidence that the spreading of viruses is accelerated by electromagnetic radiation.” Key points:
Immune suppressing and immune disturbing effects of EMF
Ronald N. Kostoff, Research Affiliate, School of Public Policy, Georgia Institute of Technology, explains in his recent monograph that radio-frequency radiation typically acts in combination, one increasing the impacts of the other rendering the immune system “…unable to counteract exposure to viruses as nature intended.”
Kostoff goes on to say in the same monograph: “This gets to the link between wireless radiation exposure and the latest coronavirus pandemic. Wireless radiation adversely affects the immune system…, and a weakened immune system increases the chances that exposure to the coronavirus (or any virus) will translate into symptoms/disease.”
In addition, there are other serious health effects from radio-frequency microwave radiation. A 10-year $30 million dollar study from the National Toxicology Program (NTP) funded by the U.S. government, and research from the Ramazzini Institute showed clear evidence of cancer and adverse impacts to the brain and heart from previous generations of wireless.
The Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks (SCHEER) which provides scientific advice to the European Commission regarding public health, issued a statement identifying 5G impact as “high,” and that “the lack of clear evidence…of exposure guidelines to 5G technology leaves open the possibility of unintended biological consequences.”
At a time when the entire world is struggling with a pandemic, is it wise to roll out 5G? After all, an entirely new generation of wireless technology with many novel and untested features such as higher frequencies, cellphone antennas next to homes, schools, businesses, public buildings and places of worship, phased array antennas, and Massive Input Massive Output (MIMO), is a dramatic technological leap without a single safety test.
Recommendations to Governments
We urge governments to enact a moratorium on 5G and strongly push back against the race to build out further wireless infrastructure both on land and in space. We oppose the implementation of disaster capitalism, (aka disaster profiteering) as it is now playing out with stealth and overt deployment of wireless infrastructure during this time of crisis. Governments owe it to the public to provide evidence of safety by scientists independent of industry before blanketing the Earth and sky with yet another layer of electromagnetic radiation. Telemedicine, online education, or other services would be far better addressed through safer, wired connections.
Based on the overwhelming body of science from international military/government reports as well as from independent science showing harm from electromagnetic radiation, we urge governments to halt the build-out and activation of all 5G infrastructure, both on Earth and in space, and to respond to a need for more broadband access with safer, faster, more reliable and resilient wired connections.
Recommendations Regarding Exposure to Wireless Radiation
Home from school, the default mode could become screen-time only. Families and caretakers might consider taking advantage of these value-fillable days to rekindle children’s ability to play, imagine, day-dream, romp in the dirt, explore nature, and above all, spend quality time with family. Likely, screen-time cravings will fall away quite naturally when children are gifted the nurturing they truly want and need.
May this global wake-up call help move us toward a future where respect for life takes precedence over corporate self-gain, and where technology has undergone scrutiny to ensure the health and well-being of all life on the planet.
As of July 2019, 21 states in the US had passed 5G legislation largely removing local communities’ right to weigh in on the placement, fees, review timelines, and appeal processes of 4g/5g wireless cellphone antennas aka so-called “small cells”. These favorable-to-industry ALEC state bills ignore health impacts, privacy violations, weather forecasting interference to name just a few of the ways in which the public will be negatively impacted.
In response to the Colorado state bill, a group of citizens submitted to their state legislators an excellent Policy Report, Reclaiming Local Control Over Wireless Facilities in Colorado. The report identifies many shortcomings of the Colorado legislation. It also suggests that if the legislators should choose to craft new legislation, that it prioritize local control as was done with earlier generations of cellphones.
This very thorough and well-written report can be used in other states facing these similar bills and may also be prove useful in educating local representatives.
Please find three links below:
1. Link to a summary article about the state of the state bills (as of July 2019) put out by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
A practical guide to engage with the Community, Council, Doctors, Legal pathways & Telcos; to put the brakes on the 5G roll-out. Let’s Stop 5G unless safety testing is conducted that ensures public health, wildlife and the environment are not at risk from harm. Scientific evidence proves the detrimental effects of electromagnetic radiation exposure, WE DO NOT CONSENT to more!
…Intended for use at the local, state or federal levels as well as for raising public awareness.
PDF summary document complete with links to references on the “downsides” of 5g and the Internet of Things (IoT). Please feel free to use this document in full or in part (no attribution needed) to inform local, state, or federal officials of why people increasingly think 5G and cell tower antennas outside all our homes is…well…just a really bad idea.