Court Slaps Down Ajit Pai's Lazy FCC Ruling On 5G Safety, Likely Fueling Conspiracy Theorists

from the not-helping dept

To be clear, there’s absolutely no evidence that 5G wireless technology poses a meaningful impact to human health. Most of the conspiracy theorists that claim otherwise have a head full of pebbles, and are uniformly basing those claims on misinterpreted evidence or absolute gibberish. That doesn’t mean that you don’t want to continue studying cellular technology’s impact on the human body, or adjust your safety standards when the scientific evidence warrants.

In December of 2019 the Ajit Pai FCC announced it would not be updating its radiofrequency (RF) emission guidelines, which determine “safe” levels of exposure. The decision, Pai said, was based on a comprehensive six year review of the available evidence.

Yeah, about that.

Several groups that lean toward the… conspiratorial… had challenged the FCC’s decision, forcing a court review. And when the Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit actually reviewed the FCC’s decision making process, they found that the FCC didn’t really do its due diligence in reviewing the evidence. The court stated in its order (pdf) that while there very well might be good evidence to not change the standards, the FCC under Ajit Pai didn’t actually provide it:

“Last Friday, the court ruled that the FCC?s decision in 2019 that its 1996 radio frequency emission guidelines adequately protect the public was capricious, arbitrary and not evidence based, in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act. The court also found that the analysis provided by the U.S. Federal Drug Administration, on which the FCC relied for its decision, was also not evidence based.”

Again that’s not to say that it wasn’t the right call to maintain the same safety standards, just that the FCC didn’t actually provide meaningful evidence in making that determination:

“To be clear, we take no position in the scientific debate regarding the health and environmental effects of RF radiation ? we merely conclude that the Commission?s cursory analysis of material record evidence was insufficient as a matter of law,? stated the order.”

Granted this whole “making a decision without looking at the actual evidence” thing was a bit of a pattern for the Ajit Pai FCC, whether it was its attempts to kill broadband subsidies for tribal lands, its attacks on media consolidation rules, its rulings on cell tower placements that largely favored industry, or its attempt to ban states from protecting broadband consumers. In every example Pai’s decisions were shot down by the courts after they found they weren’t based on much in the way of legally-supportable fact. Pai’s disregard for factual reality was also well represented during the net neutrality repeal.

In this case, the FCC’s laziness is now directly fueling conspiracy theorists like Robert Kennedy Jr., who will now use the FCC’s screw up as broader evidence that there’s some vast health conspiracy going on:

“The court?s decision exposes the FCC and FDA as captive agencies that have abandoned their duty to protect public health in favor of a single-minded crusade to increase telecom industry profits,” said Kennedy, in a statement. Kennedy has repeatedly claimed that the FCC is a “captive agency,” led and controlled by telecom industry insiders who are not objective about the health effects of RF radiation.”

It’s true that the FCC is historically a captured agency (especially under Trump). It’s also true that some of the Pai FCC’s laziness could be attributed to not wanting to upset the cellular industry. But that doesn’t automatically mean that 5G harms human health. That still needs to be proven by actual evidence. But because Pai didn’t do his job properly, that’s going to all get lost in translation.

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Comments on “Court Slaps Down Ajit Pai's Lazy FCC Ruling On 5G Safety, Likely Fueling Conspiracy Theorists”

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This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Unless the person from the government is a police officer. Then you should be completely deferential and if they shoot you for being unable to follow conflicting orders then its your fault for not following orders and having to dark of a shade of skin. Unless of course that police office it trying to protect a democratic process you don’t like, in which case screw them.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Bruce C. says:

Re: Re: Re:

Not to mention how they cut funding to the regulatory agencies in the name of "balancing the budget. And then the agencies are forced to institute "user fees" and get held hostage by the people who actually hold their purse strings. A lot of agencies (and the court system) would be much more effective if they were adequately funded by taxpayers rather than by "users".

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This comment has been deemed funny by the community.
sumgai (profile) says:

There’s a Fourth Law that lawyers learn in school, but we don’t often see it in print. Time to rectify that omission:

When the law is on your side, pound the law.
When the facts are on your side, pound the facts.
When you have nothing on your side, pound the table.
When science is decidedly not on your side, pound the conspiracy theorists into action.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Sometimes it's not enjoyable to be right

Reading the article I just knew that Pai’s claim that his decision was based upon evidence was a flat out lie and unfortunately it seemed I was right. Pai was and I’ve no doubt still is a corporate stooge who will see only that which agrees with him and will say whatever he thinks will benefit him/those he serves, so it’s not a surprise that he would toss a 5G study into the garbage after lying and asserting that it came out in favor of the telecom companies.

ECA (profile) says:

Still think

Pai had no REAL knowledge of the tech he was to regulate.
And the only things he know were What he was told by his Boss’s(not our leaders)
There are allot of problems with 5g. And the idea that it can replace all the other generations(1g,2g,3g,4g) and become the main way we use the internet, WITHOUT a ton of wires and fiber needing to be installed, is Really short sighted.
Even without to much knowledge, the power increase needed to use 5G is huge. The Range, currently, Sucks. Even if you can get it up and host 1000 people in 1 metro area, you will still need MORE equipment. They have Blackballed one of the major World competitors, that already has facilities installed in other parts of the world.
The Quality, which has been mentioned many times, In the USA is SUBPAR, mostly as the corps want to save every penny. There was/is another way to do this, and they didnt want to reconstruct Their whole system. Match the rest of the world in 4G then widen the bandwidth to make it better. Which would take Proven tech, and made things better and faster.
But they want a few other things. They want it all. Cellphone, internet, TV broadcast all in 1 system. Bypass those Sats up there giving us TV signals.

The original phone system was built with allot of thought into it. #1, you cant knock it all out, easily. In case of war/emergencies/anything, News and info can get to the other side of the country. And the Analog system could work Without needing special equipment. Take 2 wires and tap them with each other.

sumgai (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Remember, imaginary shit can’t be countered with evidence that can be repeatedly tested, with unvarying results every time. Anyone attempting to do so will be labeled as a deep-state, fake-news, pinko liberal commie pole-smoker.

In fact, the only proven way to counter a bullshit conspiracy theory is with an even loonier bullshit conspiracy theory. I’m afraid I’m not up to that task, sorry.

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