Following a rise in misconception about the role of 5G technology trials over spike in the number of Covid-19 cases in the country, the telecom industry body Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) moved the information technology ministry and sought the removal of fake and misleading messages from social media platforms like Facebook, Whatsapp, and Twitter.
The telecom body represents the big three telecom giants including Reliance Jio, Bharti Airtel, and Vodafone Idea. The body has refuted any such claims and said that linking 5G technology with coronavirus spike is baseless as 5G networks have not yet been installed in the country and even 5G trials are yet to be started by the telecom operators.
In a letter dated May 15 to MeitY additional secretary Rajendra Kumar, COAI director general S P Kochhar said: “To safeguard the national interest, we request your good office to kindly instruct all the social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, etc, to remove all such posts and misleading campaigns from their platforms on an urgent basis.”
The misconception blew out of proportion after people started sharing audio and video messages on social media platforms in which 5G towers were blamed for the rise in casualties across the country “even though none of the companies have installed 5G technology anywhere in India,” COAI said.
Many video messages show that people were convinced of the claims and wanted to bring down mobile towers. “We would hereby like to highlight that these types of rumors have spread over the past two weeks, mainly in semi-urban and rural areas. There has been a rise in such misinformation mainly in Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and Punjab. We are concerned that this misleading and false claim/information might spread to other parts of the country as well,” Kochhar said.
Earlier the department of telecommunications has also denied any such claims and said it has no scientific basis. “Moreover, it is informed that the testing of the 5G network has not yet started anywhere in India. Hence, the claim that 5G trials or networks are causing coronavirus in India is baseless and false,” the DoT earlier said.
International bodies like the World Health Organization and International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection have also rejected claims of 5G having any ill effect on the health of people.
COAI said spreading a myth around telecom services is against the national interest and may significantly impact the telecom operations.