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Society

Balance right to health and 5G technology

South Korea, United Kingdom and Germany started implementing the new fifth generation technology
Last year , several countries including South Korea, United Kingdom and Germany started implementing the new fifth generation technology also known as 5G technology. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Last year , several countries including South Korea, United Kingdom and Germany started implementing the new fifth generation technology also known as 5G technology. This is the 5th generation of mobile phone wireless communication. The journey first began with 1st generation (1G) which enabled voice calls, 2nd generation (2G) enabled text messages, 4th generation ( 4G boosted speed and allowed mobile computing such as mobile apps, while 5G is expected to boost speeds, and connectivity. According to proponents of the 5G technology, 5G is expected to boost speeds almost 10-20 times faster than the 4G technology.

The 5G has received a lot of global attention due to the potential harmful effects on health and environment.

The proponents of this technology advocate for its usage due to the expected benefits as above, while disregarding the potential harmful effects the technology might have on human life. The technology is packaged as one that will boost connectivity while mostly remaining silent on the dangers and harmful effects.

Some African countries have indicated willingness to allow 5G technology. Kenya’s largest telco, Safaricom has announced plans to launch 5G this year. According to the telco, one of the benefits of 5G technology is the superfast service. From media reports, the firm has already completed trials and testing.

While some countries have allowed usage of 5G few countries have disallowed it, citing health fears. Brussels has altogether banned 5G pilot plans due to concerns over harmful radiation levels.

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Switzerland too has halted the 5G rollout citing the same concerns on human health. The Swiss approach has been through the placement of an indefinite moratorium on 5G pending further testing of the impact of 5G radiation.

Many scientists globally argue that radiation from 5G technology is likely to have adverse effects on human health and the environment. In an appeal to the European Union, about 180 scientists and doctors from various countries globally warned of the dangers of radiation exposure from the 5G technology. In a plea, the scientists recommended a stop to 5G until health and environmental fears are addressed.

I agree with the position taken by the scientists who advice a cautionary approach before the full implementation of 5G. It is certainly not prudent to rush and implement a technology whose effect on human health and the environment is unknown. While faster internet speed and connectivity is welcome, this should not be done at the possible expense of people’s health. Internet speed is not as vital as human life when the two aspects are balanced. It is pointless to have faster internet speed and a population exposed to harmful radiation.

If the studies taken by the opponents of the 5G technology are factual and sound, then the same cautionary ought to be adopted in Kenya.

Legally if indeed it is found that the 5G technology is harmful to health and the environment, then it would be unconstitutional to allow it. The Constitution safeguards people’s right to good health and a clean environment.

Any law, regulations or actions that may endanger or breach any of these rights can be challenged. While people have a right to innovate, this should not be done at the expense of citizens’ rights.

The Bill of Rights and the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. Therefore on a balance, the right to health and clean environment would supersede an entity’s private rights.

I hope that a cautionary approach is implemented in Kenya due to the need to safeguard people’s lives and the environment.

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