Equipe Phonegate, 8 July 2019
Three years ago to the day, via his blog, Dr. Marc Arazi launched the alert with this article entitled: “Mobile telephony: manufacturers caught in the act of deception“. Indeed, the day before, the National Agency for Health Security, Environment and Labour (ANSES) published an expert report entitled “Radiofrequency Exposure and Child Health”. It revealed that 9 out of 10 mobile phones tested in 2015 by the National Frequency Agency (ANFR) in real use (in contact with the body) exceeded the regulatory thresholds for protecting the health and safety of users.
We therefore asked Alert Phonegate’s President to give us his opinion on the progress made, but also on the difficulties encountered and the prospects for action to protect the health of smartphone users.
What do you think are the greatest successes achieved?
There can be no health scandal without legal action. And similarly, there can be no possible legal action without evidence of infringements committed by industrialists. Much of this evidence is in the hands of ANFR and its Director General, Gilles Brégant, who use all the most questionable procedures to delay their publications as long as possible.
By conducting a real judicial guerrilla warfare, we forced this national agency under the responsibility of the French Ministry of Economy and Finance to publish via its open-data site hundreds of test reports (not full and unoriginal) showing the failure of French and European regulations.
Since April 2018, we have also enabled the first mobile phone withdrawals in France (more than 100,000 Hapi 30 from Orange) and the updating of 12 different models.
[See table in original article.]
Thanks to these advances and the establishment of the Phonegate Lawyers’ Consortium, we were able to launch the first criminal and collective actions in France against the manufacturers XIAOMI and HMD GLOBAL OY (Nokia).
And in the same way the obstacles encountered?
The obstacles are many and all have one thing in common, the central role that mobile phones play in our daily lives. There is no longer any question of parting with it, even if we have serious doubts about the risks to our health and that of our loved ones. In these circumstances, the responsibility of public authorities is central. No serious information campaign, no more prevention campaign or good practices are implemented on a large scale.
But this is where the role of the mobile phone industry lobby plays to its fullest. And they always have arguments to influence the political decision, namely: industrial weight (jobs), financial weight (advertising), media weight (60% are “under control” in France), etc…
And as in the face of any health scandal and mounting scientific evidence, the “strategy of doubt” is in full swing, carried by well-zealous and well-paid soldiers, whether they are “experts”, politicians or “journalists”. All these little people are waving behind the scenes to discredit, manoeuvre and slow down our actions.
And it works! In the United States, a country of freedoms, Phonegate was classified by the American organization Project censored as the 4th most censored subject in 2018. In France, public television, run by former Orange No. 2 Delphine Ernotte,has systematically blocked any possibility of informing millions of mobile phone users of the risks involved.
What are the international perspectives?
We are making more and more progress every day and we have forged many links with organizations and qualified personalities in about 50 countries. We rely on a Scientific Council composed of world-renowned experts.
We have seen during our international travels, as most recently in England, how essential these direct links are to advancing the level of understanding and alert in a country. This will therefore require time, human and financial resources.
The relay of legal actions, initially at European level, is also one of our priorities for the coming months. Indeed, most of the mobile phones identified in France are also sold in many European countries. And here again, there is a real gap in the European authorities’ efforts to ensure that consumers have the essential health and safety requirement for placing these devices on the market and monitoring them.
What do you recommend to users who are worried about their health and that of their loved ones?
It will take time to put in place new regulations that really protect the health of users. So until then, the solutions will come from a change in usage. And civil society knows how to do this. It is often ahead of politics, and it is it that has often been able to show the right way.
Especially since it is rather easy to protect yourself. Indeed, it is enough to keep your mobile phone away from your body. To use the American slogan that we like very much: “the distance to your device is your best friend”. So don’t mechanically put your smartphone in your pants or shirt pocket anymore, or stick it to your ear to make calls. Nothing insurmountable!
How can we help the association’s action?
There are now tens of thousands of us, or even hundreds of thousands, who know what the Phonegate scandal is all about. But the road ahead is immense; 5 billion mobile phone users are directly affected.
So all help is welcome, you can:
- Join us on our social networks (Facebook, Twitter)
- subscribe to our newsletter
- Share our information
- Sign our petition (more than 6000 signatories)
- Give a little time and competence
- Make a donation
A word to conclude
The Phonegate scandal is above all the revelation of a widespread deception by industrialists for more than 20 years regarding the standards supposed to protect our health from 2G, 3G, 4G technologies. With the arrival of 5G, it is imperative that we ensure that this will not continue. And for our part, we have no confidence in manufacturers and regulators to stop it.