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Euro report slates wireless comms, recommends smoke and mirrors

Listening to our inner magnet

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

Any mal magnetism

The committee didn't reach its conclusions just on testimony from Dr Warnke, it also asked the mobile operators to come along and defend the technology, but the report explains that all they could do was "invoke numerous scientific publications said to indicate no significant biological effect" which were accompanied by "irritated and sometimes emotional statements".

According to the report "representatives of mobile telephony have for years espoused the same paradigm and the same line of argument" – boringly arguing that mobile telephony is safe rather than adopting a more interesting approach.

The report's rapporteur wraps up the document with a whiff of conspiracy, declaring that it is "most curious, to say the least, that the applicable official threshold values for limiting the health impact ... were drawn up [by] an NGO whose origin and structure are none too clear and which is furthermore suspected of having rather close links with the industry".

That NGO is the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), which was set up in 1992 and has a surprisingly-transparent structure. It is fair to say that many of those consulted by ICNIRP work in the industry, but those are the people who understand the technology so it's hardly "most curious".

It's worrying the Council Of Europe is spending our money inviting those with arguably unsubstantiated opinions to dictate policy, but it's even more worrying that those unsubstantiated opinions get elevated to fact when reported in our press (The Express provides a perfect example, though The Telegraph's coverage is only a little more cynical).

If we're not careful we end up with a panicking population who'll deny their children wireless internet access, and all internet access if the wired infrastructure isn't available, in response to petitions from people who presumably think a magnetic bracelet can cure cancer.

The report has already been adopted by the Council of Europe's Committee on the Environment, Agriculture and Local and Regional Affairs. We can only hope it stops there, before the council or its deliberative body begins recommending that we start communicating with flashing torches, and telling our children how we used to be able to talk to anyone, anywhere, whenever we wanted to. ®

Bootnote

An earlier version of this report stated that the report had been produced for the EU. The Council of Europe is a completely separate organisation based in Strasbourg that covers 47 European countries. It has its own Parliamentary Assembly, as well as the European Commission of Human Rights, and the European Court of Human Rights. And no, we don't know what it's up to pontificating on Wi-Fi either.

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