Any major new technology development on the scale of 5G has the potential to create many positive changes. However, as with every innovation, we should take into account the concerns and fears that will inevitably be raised – the possible effects of 5G on our health are a clear example. On top of this, there is a fear that some people might lose their jobs to automatisation processes due to the efficiency gains in manufacturing and other business areas that 5G may provide.
Other concerns are linked to privacy and security risks – could 5G be used for public surveillance? And could 5G providers from outside of Europe pose a threat to our national security? While these concerns are all valid to debate, they can sometimes spiral out of control. Social media, alongside a general distrust in the media and governments, can fuel conspiracy thinking. In turn, this might lead to the spread of mistrust in science, public institutions, and democratic processes – as well as polarising society and fueling violent extremism. It is important to recognise that research addressing the concerns about 5G is ongoing and aims to ensure that 5G will be beneficial for us all.
Tanesh Kumar, Madhusanka Liyanage, Ijaz Ahmad, An Braeken, Mika Ylianttila, 2018, User Privacy, Identity and Trust in 5G
James Meese, Jordan Frith, Rowan Wilken, 2020, COVID-19, 5G conspiracies and infrastructural futures
AgostinoDi Ciaula, 2018, Towards 5G communication systems: Are there health implications?
EU Commission, EU coordinated risk assessment of the cybersecurity of 5G networks