The GSMA is trying to counter one of the more destructive pieces of misinformation to emerge in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, the organization has condemned several incidences of arson against mobile phone masts in the United Kingdom.
According to the GSMA, the arson can likely be attributed to a disinformation campaign that has tried to establish a link between 5G networks and the spread of COVID-19. However, independent British fact checkers have found no evidence to support that allegation, and British police and counter-terrorism authorities are currently investigating the various crimes.
“The 5G story is complete and utter rubbish, it’s nonsense, it’s the worst kind of fake news,” said England National Medical Director Stephen Powis.
The GSMA is consequently asking content providers and social media platforms to take down any links to the fake news story, especially in light of the attacks against mobile towers and the threats that have been made against mobile industry employees. The organization argues that good communications infrastructure is essential during a time of crisis, and that it will be more difficult to coordinate an effective medical response if the country’s 5G network goes down.
“The telecoms industry is working around the clock to keep vital health, education and emergency services online,” said GSMA Director General Mats Granryd. “It is deplorable that critical communications infrastructure is being attacked based on outright mistruths. We urge everyone to trust health authorities. There is no link between 5G and COVID-19.”
Granryd noted that communications infrastructure also enables digital businesses and allows people to stay in touch while still observing social distancing guidelines.
While the GSMA was forced to cancel MWC 2020, the organization has continued to advocate for 5G technology since the onset of the coronavirus. The organization recently published a slew of policy recommendations for governments that are hoping to improve their 5G capabilities, and detailed the steps that China is taking to achieve its long term 5G goals.