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FCC General Counsel Warns 5G Conspiracy Theories Threaten U.S. Economy

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WASHINGTON—Conspiracy theories regarding the safety of 5G threaten the U.S. economy and run contrary to the findings of the Food and Drug Administration, Thomas M. Johnson Jr., FCC general counsel, wrote yesterday in a Washington Post opinion piece.

“Conjectures about 5G’s effect on human health are long on panic and short on science,” wrote Johnson.

The FCC recently reviewed its RF emissions standards, which Johnson called “the most stringent in the world.” The review drew on work of the FDA that found “the weight of scientific evidence has not linked cell phones with any health problems” and that existing cell phone RF limits protect the public.

However, the findings haven’t stopped plaintiffs’ lawyers, activists and even local governments from opposing 5G, wrote Johnson. Saying lawyers and activists have “capitalize[d] on fear and misinformation” about RF emissions, Johnson summarized a proposed class action lawsuit against Apple alleging iPhones exceed federal RF emission guidelines. 

In a case in Berkeley, Calif., a wireless provider association is challenging a city ordinance requiring retailers to post a message prominently in their stores warning consumers that placing cell phones next to the body may exceed federal RF radiation exposure limits, he wrote.

Other local governments, including those in New York City and Trenton, N.J., fear 5G as well, he wrote. “Bad local decisions could be catastrophic for our country as we continue to face historic challenges relating to the coronavirus pandemic,” wrote Johnson. “[I]f we delay 5G deployment based on irrational fears and unproven theories, it will only hurt the American people as we plot our path forward,” he wrote.

Separately, NATE: The Communications Infrastructure Contractors Association, is advising members that June 6 has been designated “5G Global Protest Day.” Recent news reports chronicle vandalism and destruction of cell phone towers.

The Washington Post editorial is available online.

Phil Kurz

Phil Kurz is contributing editor to TV Technology