The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned a poster that made alarmist statements that 5G networks pose a threat to public health, ruling the claims could not be supported by scientific evidence.
5G rollouts have been greeted by resistance in some communities who fear the health implications caused by more powerful, denser networks. However these fears are not supported by academic studies and there have been instances of disinformation and fake news.
Charity Electrosensitivity-UK ran a campaign in the summer of last year, depicting a family holding hands with the caption “How safe is 5G?”. The poster included quotes from professionals claiming 5G caused reduced fertility, depression, disturbed sleep, headaches and cancer.
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Seven complaints were raised by the public, with Electrosenstivity UK arguing that it was wasking a legitimate safety question. In its response to the ASA, the charity called the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) assessment to be unreliable and instead cited a number of alternative reports as well as news articles.
The ASA upheld the complaints, noting there were other statements on the posters such as “The 5G rollout is absolutely insane” and “The people are not guinea pigs whose health I can sell at a profit”. The watchdog said these statements, along with a list of alleged health effects, needed to be supported by scientific evidence – of which Electrosensitivity-UK had none.
The ASA said WHO’s findings were based on research whereas Electrosensitivity’s submissions included a link on YouTube.
“The ad must not appear again in the form complained of. We told Electrosensitivity-UK to ensure they did not make claims which implied there was robust scientific evidence that demonstrated negative human health effects caused by 5G signals or that specific medical conditions had been shown to be caused by 5G signals, unless they held adequate substantiation for such claims,” declared the ASA.”
Electrosensitivity-UK has been contacted for comment.
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Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.