“People are misinformed”: we speak to an anti-5G activist 5GIoTSmartphone 16th July 2019 Some believe that 5G is one of the biggest technological advancements of the decade. We speak to computer scientist, Reza Ganjavi, who passionately disagrees. Smartphones are in an infinite race against one another, lapping each other with each new update. One introduces a better camera, for example, and the rest have to respond. Companies are in constant catch-up.Now, 5G is the biggest new feature the smartphone has witnessed since the app store. This is transformative: for downloading, for streaming and even for your battery. 5G will multiply the speed of a phone’s internet so dramatically that it could spell the end of the smartphone itself. Pretty soon, this technology will outgrow its medium and be used in most IoT devices. It would have once seemed ludicrous to have anything faster than 4G. Well, to some people, it is. Anti-5G activism is rife on the internet. There are countless Facebook groups of users sharing stories and advice on how to fight the technology. Some label them as conspiracy theorists. Their considerable numbers, however, are undeniable. 5G opposition has got roots long before EE switched on their first networks. “I became active in RF-EMF activism before 5G was an issue: when I realized the harms of Wi-Fi, 4G cell towers, and other sources that emit RF-EMF,” says computer scientist and musician, Reza Ganjavi. Reza is the admin of an anti-5G Facebook group of over 22,000 members and a campaigner in the fight against fifth-generation cellular technology. He believes that RF-EMF is extremely damaging to human beings. What is RF-EMF? Radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) are used worldwide for mobile communications. This is a technology that raised considerable concerns when mobile phones became more mainstream in the early 2000s, but these worries were quashed over time. 5G uses higher frequencies in or near the millimetre wave band, 24 to 52 GHz. The biological effects of RF-EMF exposure on human health are deemed safe by many but still with an element of uncertainty. The World Health Organisation (WHO) claims that “There is no doubt that short-term exposure to very high levels of electromagnetic fields can be harmful to health.” The question is more about how much exposure is too much. I quickly realised I have to educate, protect myself and raise awareness in others [about 5G].Reza Ganjavi Many epidemiologic studies have looked at the potential links between exposure to non-ionising EMF energy and the risk of cancer, particularly in children aged under 14. Mobile phones tend to have very low levels of RF-EMF, reduced even further on modern phones. According to the government’s research on the health effects of electromagnetic fields, “Another factor reducing mobile phones output power is the use of the Adaptive Power Control (APC) technique in which mobile phones reduce their output powers so that the signal strength at base stations is constant and just sufficient for good quality reception.” “Despite extensive research,” WHO claims, “To date, there is no evidence to conclude that exposure to low-level electromagnetic fields is harmful to human health.” Reza disagrees. “Not a single study has shown long term exposure to RF-EMF is safe,” he says. “This includes 5G. It’s unsafe, unnecessary, and unhealthy.” Reza’s position on the subject might seem drastic but he’s not alone. The Change.org petition, Stop 5G, has over 20,000 signatures. Creator Leah Presley warns, in capital letters, that 5G will “kill us all”, adding that cell towers will “kill our children.” This is a technology that many feel very passionately fearful of. What about the benefits of 5G? 5G is set to kickstart a number of technological advances in AI and IoT. From driverless vehicles to the potential of hologram communication being commonplace, increased data means more power. Reza, however, is unconvinced that the human race needs this extra boost. “Almost all so-called benefits of 5G are ‘needs’ which are created by industry,” he says. “For example, autonomous vehicles: nobody in their right mind should be willing to go into one of those cars because they’re zapped with extremely high levels of RF-EMF: unless you want to take a fast-track to cancer.” But what about more data? “Nobody needs faster downloads. Current speeds are very fast. Every half-intelligent person would rather wait another 20 seconds on downloads than increase risk of DNA damage.” Facebook is a hub for groups and communities that oppose 5G Reza describes learning about RF-EMF technology as being “an awakening”. He talks of a huge discrepancy with what businesses say about how safe RF-EMF is and science. He says that industry is actively lying to people and that governments are failing to protect us. “I quickly realised I have to educate, protect myself and raise awareness in others,” he says. It’s not just 5G that Reza opposes, though. “It’s important to not distinguish 5G from 4G,” Reza says. “The problem is not just 5G but also lack of proper regulation and lack of sound standards, for all RF-EMF producing devices. RF-EMF is RF-EMF: 5G milometer waves just take the topic to a new level of ridiculousness. RF-EMF causes biological damage. Current safety standards completely ignore biology (cellular damage at sub-thermal levels) and focus only on physics (thermal effect).” Is anti-5G a conspiracy? It’s easy for many to label opposition to 5G as a conspiracy. In an interview with Newsroom, two anti-5G campaigners recognised the media’s label of them as “tin-hat wearing conspiracy theorists”. Where opposition to 5G is perhaps a little different though is that it does have roots in scientific research. Classic oppositions to the shape of the world or the moon landings’ existence are often backed by feelings more than data or fact. Reza’s opinions on 5G are backed by more than just a hunch, whether or not you choose to believe them or not. “It’s exactly the tobacco scene of [the] 1940s where people were lied to by the industry and they were hooked on cigarettes,” he says. “People are hooked on these devices, and they get zero education. Schools should be teaching risks of exposure to RF-EMF and ways to reduce those risks, but the topic is entirely ignored.” So what does Reza say to those who might question his logic? “They have their head comfortably stuck in the sand. Thousands of studies show biological damage from exposure to RF-EMF. 5G is RF-EMF. The industry’s own patent filings indicate DNA damage and cancer happening as a result of exposure to RF-EMF.” 5G is sweeping across the globe and there’s little that any of us can seemingly do to stop it. The debate around its safety, however, may well rage on. Is 5G dangerous or are concerns misplaced? Let us know what you think on Facebook. Mark WhiteMark is a writer/editor who has written online and in print.