Sat, 08 Aug 2020

London [UK], April 8 (ANI): A number of cell towers have been torched in the United Kingdom due to the widely circulated conspiracy theories linking the 5G technology with coronavirus.

Many engineers have also been harassed due to the supposition linking the disease and cell technology, according to NBC news.

Four masts of telecom company Vodafone's were attacked over the last 24 hours, CNBC quoted their spokesperson as saying on Sunday. However, it is not certain if the said sites were used for 5G.

A clip circulated online last week showed a cell mast being burnt in Birmingham which the carrier EE said was "likely" caused by arson. While the tower was not 5G, EE said they will work with police to identify perpetrators.

"We will try to restore full coverage as quickly as possible, but the damage caused by the fire is significant," an EE representative told CNBC. The site provided 2G, 3G and 4G connectivity to thousands of people in Birmingham, the spokesperson added.

Another clip circulated on Twitter shows a lady claiming that "technology kills people" as she harasses and questions telecom engineers deputed for laying 5G fibre-optic cables.

A number of posts on Facebook claim that coronavirus outbreak was caused by the fifth generation of mobile internet. Many of these assumptions are based on the fact that China's Wuhan, where the virus is known to have originated, had deployed 5G networks last year.

Despite no evidence to back these claims, many celebrities have jumped the gun only to invite criticism. In a now-deleted tweet, U.K. talent show judge Amanda Holden shared a petition calling for 5G network to be banned.

US actor Woody Harrelson posted about the conspiracy theory on Instagram, claiming a "lot of my friends have been talking about the negative effects of 5G."On the contrary, a British fact-checking website Full Fact said in a report that many places affected by the highly contagious disease have no deployment of 5G networks. Iran, for instance, is one of the worst affected with over 60,000 cases but has no fifth-generation coverage.

British minister Michael Gove on Saturday termed the conspiracy theories as "dangerous nonsense" while Stephen Powis, national medical director for England, said they were "the worst kind of fake news," according to NBC's report.

"It is absolute and utter rubbish," remarked Powis.

Britain's culture secretary, Oliver Dowden, is set to meet social media companies this week to discuss the spread of disinformation about 5G and COVID-19, a government spokesperson told CNBC.

"We have received several reports of criminal damage to phone masts and abuse of telecoms engineers apparently inspired by crackpot conspiracy theories circulating online. Those responsible for criminal acts will face the full force of the law," the spokesperson was quoted as saying by NBC news.

Vodafone's UK chief, Nick Jeffery, has called the linking of coronavirus to 5G "utterly baseless" and has also condemned the attacks on telecoms infrastructure and staff.

The fifth standard of mobile networks was termed safe by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection earlier this year, NBC said in its report.

5G, just like previous cellular networks, depends on signals carried by radio waves, which are part of the electromagnetic spectrum. There have been fears that this electromagnetic radiation could result in health risks.

But the radio waves used for mobile networks are non-ionizing, meaning they don't have enough energy to remove electrons from atoms or molecules, the report suggested. (ANI)

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