67 acts of vandalism on phone masts and 80 cases of harassment against telecommunications maintenance workers have now been reported across the UK, with the perpetrators believed to be conspiracy theorists wrongly claiming that 5G technology is to blame for the spread of Covid-19.
The conspiracy theory has spread far and wide, but the UK appears to be Europe’s undisputed hotspot for unsavoury real-life incidents.
The GSMA says it has received the following reports of attacks on telecoms workers and equipment from European countries:
- 67 arson attacks in the UK; 80 cases of harassment against maintenance workers
- 22 arson attacks in the Netherlands; 3 incidents of harassment
- 3 arson attacks in Ireland
- 2 arson attacks in Cyprus
- At least 1 arson attack each in Belgium, Italy and Sweden
- 1 suspected arson attack in Finland
The tallies above may not quite be exhaustive, but they show that the shameful activity that we’ve been witnessing in the UK far exceeds what has been recorded elsewhere in Europe.
“We must stop disinformation linking 5G to Covid-19 from harming our critical communications networks and frontline engineers when we need them most,” reads a joint statement sent to Trusted Reviews by the GSMA and the European Telecommunications Network Operators’ Association (ETNO).
“We can’t let baseless claims against 5G undermine public trust in the technology Europe will ultimately need to drive its economic recovery. Safety assurances from trusted authorities like the World Health Organization and the European Commission need to be communicated across communities.
“Knowledge is the ultimate weapon against false claims.”
ETNO added: “The evolution of the arson attacks follows the one of the online misinformation, in terms of timing. In certain cases, alleged arsonists posted on social media linking the attack to their false claims on 5G.
“Official inquiries into the attacks are taking place/will follow and they are in the remit of enforcement authorities.”
In the UK, the vast majority of mobile phone masts that have been attacked are not actually 5G masts.
In some cases, so much damage has been inflicted to masts that nearby residents have had to evacuate their homes. Furthermore, several of the sites that have been targeted provided connectivity to emergency services.
“What these people are doing is they’re attacking the ability of the UK to carry out lockdown, and to ensure that people stay at home, to ensure that emergency services can carry out their work,” Gareth Elliott, Mobile UK’s head of policy and communications, said on April 21, when the UK total was 59.
“Let’s not forget, an ambulance that’s going out and about is not connected by a fixed line, it’s connected by mobile. The people who are doing this are impacting their own communities.”