UK watchdog bans ‘misleading’ advert claiming 5G is harmful to health

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The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has told charity Electrosensitivity-UK it must not run the advert again in its current form as it contains unsubstantiated claims.

The ad, which was seen in July and August 2019, featured a headline which stated “How safe is 5G?” above an image of a family of three holding hands as they walked their dog. The ad listed a range of health effects such as “reduced male fertility, depression, disturbed sleep and headaches, as well as cancer” and included four quotes from various professionals opposing the roll-out of 5G.

Complaints

ASA said it received several complaints about the advertisement. The watchdog ruled that Electrosensitivity-UK must not make claims implying there is robust scientific evidence to demonstrate negative human health effects caused by 5G signals or that specific medical conditions had been shown to be caused by 5G signals “without adequate substantiation”.

Electrosensitivity-UK argued that the “How safe is 5G?” question was open-ended and unbiased and could be accepted, rejected or ignored by readers. The organisation claimed a lack of research to prove 5G was safe and questioned the reliability of existing studies.

ASA evaluated materials submitted by Electrosensitivity-UK and concluded: “We did not consider that the evidence demonstrated that 5G signals caused negative human health effects and therefore considered that the ad was misleading.”

UK government takes a stand

The ruling comes as a small number of towns and cities in the UK and elsewhere have halted installation of 5G masts under the weight of calls from a vocal minority of citizens.

In October, the UK’s Minister for Digital and Broadband, Matt Warman, announced plans to write to all UK planning authorities saying they should not oppose 5G roll-out without “legitimate grounds and evidence”.

He said the government also planned to do more to clarify information around 5G.

A Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) spokesperson told SmartCitiesWorld at the time: “Only objections with legitimate grounds and evidence should prevent planning permission from being granted."

“There is no compelling evidence for any increased concern about 5G roll-out compared to Wi-Fi, 3G or 4G and there are well-established limits for radio equipment within which any new kit must operate. These limits are acknowledged by Public Health England in the UK and the World Health Organisation,” they said.