5G: real revolution or threat to civil liberties?
5G is on everyone’s lips. The new cellular standard promises higher speeds than its predecessor, LTE, and it opens up new opportunities, for example in the further development of the Internet of Things. But even if the new technology is highly praised – it harbors risks: there is a risk of curtailment of data protection, freedom of the Internet and net neutrality.
5G coverage is touted as the ideal solution for slow networks and irregular expansion in suburban and rural areas close to the city. The technology should also be able to combine autonomous driving and a large number of IoT applications in the future.
However, the added value for consumers is not yet clear. The speed of 5G is often cited as one of the main benefits. However, it is still much lower than with other technologies. The maximum speed of 5G is ten gigabits, while it is 50 gigabits for cable networks and even 100 terabits for fiber optics. The question is therefore who will benefit from the introduction of 5G at all. In Bavaria, the mayors of 22 municipalities in the Garmisch-Partenkirchen district passed a resolution last year in which they said Displeasure with the commissioning of the networks and express the communication between Telekom AG and the municipalities. Other councils too emphasize that the health of citizens and the protection of nature are more important to them than joining the 5G network trend.
The technology also brings new ones Weak points with itself, including the risk of disclosing data – such as geographical location – as well as the tracking of calls made, SMS sent and websites and apps visited from a smartphone. Even more worrying, however, is the fact that 5G harbors several security flaws that are already known from 3G and 4G networks.
5G does not solve any of the data protection problems that traditional mobile networks have to struggle with. In addition, the new technology restricts the control options for users. In addition, 5G will slowly but surely undermine net neutrality, a fundamental Internet principle for freedom of access, exchange and dissemination of information without discrimination. Certain states are already imposing more and more rules on the Internet that are hostile to freedom. With even more control and surveillance, there is a risk of technological monopoly of communication on an international level.
In addition, 5G offers the possibility of setting up networks that are called “splinter nets“and allow themselves to be controlled by middlemen or by certain states. This would mean the end of a free, universal and fully accessible Internet for all. Such isolated environments endanger privacy, security, respect for human rights and freedom of expression, because there is a lack of transparency and accountability. The question of ownership of the 5G frequencies also raises the question of data sovereignty. In other words, if networks are managed by foreign companies, it is impossible to know what they are doing with the data to do.
In addition, 5G transmitters that are located outside of apartments or buildings pose a risk of abuse in relation to the specific geolocation of users. Overall, 5G does not offer any reliability. The promises of technology are too weak to be revolutionary and there are no guarantees of the security of data and the security of citizens. Fundamental principles are at stake and major shifts are to be feared. It is all the more important to be very vigilant from now on. (bw)