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GSM Association Slams Euro Call For Ban On Wireless In School 271

Posted by Soulskill
from the don't-cloud-this-issue-with-facts dept.
jhernik writes "The ongoing debate over the supposed dangers posed by mobile phone usage and wireless signals has exploded once again. An influential European committee has called for a ban on mobile phones and Wi-Fi networks in schools – the GSM Association has denounced the report as an 'unbalanced political assessment, not a scientific report.' The report made its recommendation to reduce mobile and wireless use in schools, despite admitting that there is a lack of clear scientific and clinical proof. However, it said the lack of proof was reason enough to restrict use, just in case, comparing mobile phone radiation to other things whose dangers were once unknown, such as asbestos, leaded petrol and tobacco."
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GSM Association Slams Euro Call For Ban On Wireless In School

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  • by blair1q (305137) on Monday May 16, 2011 @08:27PM (#36147546) Journal

    So we have politicians making a political point with "data", and an industry lobby making a political point with "data", and nobody unconnected to the politics and the money doing any analysis on the other parties "data".

    How about someone comes up with something scientifically significant without proving to be in bed with one side or the other?

    • How about someone comes up with something scientifically significant without proving to be in bed with one side or the other?

      Maybe because no one outside of the "beds" is concerned about this issue? If you get a research firm or university to study this matter they will be biased by the existence of, or lack of, wireless in their facility.

      • by causality (777677)

        How about someone comes up with something scientifically significant without proving to be in bed with one side or the other?

        Maybe because no one outside of the "beds" is concerned about this issue? If you get a research firm or university to study this matter they will be biased by the existence of, or lack of, wireless in their facility.

        There's one thing I haven't seen anyone mention. The omission of it in this discussion is amusing.

        Banning wireless phones and other devices won't halt exposure to the radiation. If your cell phone has reception, you are already being exposed to radiation from the cell towers. Turning off your phone or not bringing it to the building won't change that. Not only is this ban not supported by any scientific study, it wouldn't even accomplish its stated purpose even if all studies were unanimously in support

        • by bane2571 (1024309)
          I think the idea is that the transmissions from the devices are the target. I had someone seriously tell me I should take my phone out of my posket when I can so to avoid cancer risk from 8 hour a day exposure of the same body area.
          • I had someone seriously tell me I should take my phone out of my posket when I can so to avoid cancer risk from 8 hour a day exposure of the same body area.

            Exactly - if you have a transmitter then the intensity of radiation you are exposed to is considerably higher than just receiving since it falls off as 1/(distance squared). However this should mean that any cancers are far more likely close to transmitters so presumably it should be easy to see: cancers would be near your pocket or near your ear.

            However basic common sense can tell you that this report is ridiculous. If cell phones are wireless devices are really, or even probably, causing cancer then w

            • by Joce640k (829181)

              why are we only banning these devices from schools?

              You have a lot to learn about the business/political leverage that "protecting the children" can give you.

        • by ogl_codemonkey (706920) on Monday May 16, 2011 @11:55PM (#36149036)

          I'm too lazy to explain inverse-square law [wikipedia.org] to you, but I'm sure somebody on Wikipedia will...

    • How about someone comes up with something scientifically significant without proving to be in bed with one side or the other?

      Without "bed" there is no funding to do studies.

      • by blair1q (305137)

        Sure there is. As long as you don't organize your government's scientific policies to serve corporate interests, the way America has increasingly done since the Reagan adminstration.

        • by tepples (727027)

          As long as you don't organize your government's scientific policies to serve corporate interests

          Take out the industry lobby "data" and you still "have politicians making a political point with 'data'".

          • by Joce640k (829181)

            Politicians understand how hysterical (and votey) women can get if you talk about things that might harm their little snowflake.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        more importantly, everyone knows there is no effect to be found, which means that the only reason anyone would look is if they want to find something or want to reassure people that theres nothing there.

        Cell phone radiation, being modulated on GHz frequencies, is too high in frequency to mess with brain signals and too low in energy per photon to mess with molecules.

    • How about someone comes up with something scientifically significant without proving to be in bed with one side or the other?

      Scientists have tried very hard to do just that, and they have failed. You can't prove that something is "safe," but repeated studies have consistently shown no harm.

      It's outrageous that unqualified pseudo-governmental bodies like this committee have so much power over the rest of us.

    • Who gives a damn about peer review!

      There is no need for cellphones in school. Parents want to contact a kid: Call the school. kids want internet: use internet via wires.

      Therefore, banning wireless when there is no (or not enough) data to be certain of anything, is a good precaution.
      • Cell phones are safety devices; you can call for help if, say, someone shoots up your school, or you sibling goes missing, or your child goes missing, or endless other permutations. It also saves resources; because I could text my brother, I could find out he's got a meeting at school for a couple hours he forgot to tell me about and not call on a manhunt because the incompetent school staff can't find him.

        As for plugging in, my former high school used mobile computer labs to save on costs; now they didn't

        • "Cell phones are safety devices; you can call for help if, say, someone shoots up your school"

          Better still move somewhere where idiots dont have easy access to guns. I dont recall ONE school shooting in.au.

          • Monash University Shooting. There are places on this planet that are heavily armed and have low crime, and heavily armed and high crime. Australia is more heavily armed than Pakistan, for instance, but I know where I'd feel safer. Iraq and Finland have very close gun ownership rates.

            • by Cimexus (1355033)

              To nitpick: a "school shooting", to me, means it occurs at a primary or high school, where kids are being educated and teachers have a responsibility over those kids. A university is populated by adults and there's not really that same teacher-student responsibility. Universities are also generally more open in terms of who can just walk in and out of them.

              But I agree with your post - gun ownership rates do not correlate particularly well with the prevalence of violent crime.

            • Australia removed all automatic and semi automatic guns from the public years ago, so I simply do not believe this claim. We have a very low rate of gun crime compared to the US. I have never seen a private citizen with a gun on the streets and am very happy that is the case. The Monash shooting occoured before guns were removed. There has not been a simlar incdent since.

              Violent crime rate is irrelevant, its the death rate that counts.

              • Semi-automatic firearms (esp. pistols) are easy enough to obtain in Aus. - it's just a matter of who you know. I've declined the opportunity to buy one for myself (more likely to be severe legal trouble for me than have even the opportunity to do net good with it, I'd still have to go to the same kind of people to buy ammo, couldn't practice on a range, etc.)

                We have lower firearm-related crime rates for a lot of reasons. Better public education, better welfare systems, and a rehabilitation-focused justice

        • Two APs for 30+ student laptops? HAHAHAAHHA

          The private school my friend works at has three to five per room (and no class has as many as 30 students). You wanna map out the channel/interference pattern for their buildings I'm sure you're welcome to try.

          This is the cause of the push for 5GHz Wi-Fi - more non-overlapping channels and less interference between rooms due to the more rapid signal attenuation.

      • Except wifi at schools is becoming more and more common and useful.
        I agree with you for mobiles, but not laptops.

        • by yuhong (1378501)

          Yea, many teachers ban cellphones during class time for other reasons anyway, but wi-fi is a different matter entirely.

      • by Lundse (1036754)

        I humbly suggest that global connectivity is a part of our world, and that schools should therefore reflect this. Internet access is kind off useful in schools, you know?

    • by yuhong (1378501)

      That is why study comparisons are important IMO.

    • Seriously, what aspect of the issue should be subjected to scientific scrutiny?

      I think it's solely a political question, as in: are pupils to be *available* for telephone messages while in class or at school?

      I think there is a good reason to say that they aren't. Certainly not while in class, and for that reason jamming cellphones in classrooms strikes me as totally reasonable. Whether cellphones should be jammed in the hallways or on the grounds is another matter though.

  • It's good to see schools succumbing to tinfoil hattery like this...

    I happen to think that Star Wars: Episodes I-III present a serious health risk, can we ban those within 1,000 yards of a school too?

    • by Macrat (638047)

      >

      I happen to think that Star Wars: Episodes I-III present a serious health risk, can we ban those within 1,000 yards of a school too?

      It has already been proven to be harmful too!!

  • by Ken Hall (40554) on Monday May 16, 2011 @08:31PM (#36147580)

    A high school football player just last week died during practice. MANY kids are hurt doing team sports in schools. There's a KNOWN, DEFINITE health threat, proven beyond a shadow of a doubt!

    If they can ban stuff based on the vague possibility of a problem, why not ban what is PROVEN to be one!

    • A high school football player just last week died during practice. MANY kids are hurt doing team sports in schools. There's a KNOWN, DEFINITE health threat, proven beyond a shadow of a doubt!

      If they can ban stuff based on the vague possibility of a problem, why not ban what is PROVEN to be one!

      No, we need to BAN EVERYTHING!

      It's the only way to be sure.

      • A high school football player just last week died during practice. MANY kids are hurt doing team sports in schools. There's a KNOWN, DEFINITE health threat, proven beyond a shadow of a doubt!

        If they can ban stuff based on the vague possibility of a problem, why not ban what is PROVEN to be one!

        No, we need to BAN EVERYTHING!
        It's the only way to be sure.

        The trouble is if you ban bans, then you can't then ban anything else.

        So you must ban everything, then ban bans.

        If anything new comes up, you then refuse to acknowledge it exists. Shutting your eyes and covering your ears while yelling lalala at the top of your lungs is very helpful there....except that at that point, it's been banned.

        The ban on breathing also places an upper limit to the effectiveness of the strategy, and the reign of any regime adopting it. For more information see Origin of Species (also

        • The trouble is if you ban bans, then you can't then ban anything else.

          Congratulations, you have rediscovered Russell's paradox.

          For extra credit, explain the solution.

    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      I know that in Canada, high school football is quite rare. Mostly stick to basketball, volleyball, and track. Some wrestling. Football and hockey are quite dangerous in terms of head injuries, and schools tend to shy away from these sports. You can still play these sports outside of school settings, but very few schools that I know of have teams. I had a gym teacher in highschool who told us they used to have football but dropped it because of insurance costs. I can't believe high schools in the US ha
      • by BitterOak (537666)

        I know that in Canada, high school football is quite rare.

        I live in a Canadian city and as far as I know, every high school in town has a football team (certainly most do).

        • by Mashiki (184564)

          Yeah I live in a smallish city and the 3 public highschools, and catholic highschool have a football team. Sadly though my graduating year year was the last for wrestling, one of the few sports I really enjoyed. I hated everything else.

    • by Jonner (189691)

      A high school football player just last week died during practice. MANY kids are hurt doing team sports in schools. There's a KNOWN, DEFINITE health threat, proven beyond a shadow of a doubt!

      If they can ban stuff based on the vague possibility of a problem, why not ban what is PROVEN to be one!

      It's as simple as fear of the unknown, a basic feature of human nature. Why do people fear plane crashes and terrorist attacks and mostly ignore far greater risks to health and life like car crashes and hear disease?

      • It's as simple as fear of the unknown, a basic feature of human nature. Why do people fear plane crashes and terrorist attacks and mostly ignore far greater risks to health and life like car crashes and hear disease?

        Step ladders. If there is one thing you should fear, it is step ladders.

    • But sports have a know, quantifiable benefit to the students that participate. Overall children are healthier because of them. Cellphones on the other hand, have little if any benefit to children. Their affect on their lives is detrimental in almost every respect. Do they give them cancer? That's still up for debate. But does it really matter? The only thing your child should be taking into a school are books and pencils. Everything else is a distraction.
  • TFA: However, it said the lack of proof was reason enough to restrict use, just in case, comparing mobile phone raditation to other things whose dangers were once sunknown, such as asbestos, leaded petrol and tobacco."

    It would seem they want to hold off using anything until somebody proves the negative....

  • by eparker05 (1738842) on Monday May 16, 2011 @08:32PM (#36147600)

    Except the "dangers" of cell phone radiation aren't unknown. Acording to the largest, longest, and most methodologically sound study on the matter, there is no elevated risk of cancer due to cell phone radiation.

    http://www.rfcom.ca/programs/interphone.shtml [rfcom.ca]

    perhaps they haven't read the report.

    • by c0lo (1497653) on Monday May 16, 2011 @08:52PM (#36147820)

      Except the "dangers" of cell phone radiation aren't unknown. Acording to the largest, longest, and most methodologically sound study on the matter, there is no elevated risk of cancer due to cell phone radiation.

      http://www.rfcom.ca/programs/interphone.shtml [rfcom.ca]

      perhaps they haven't read the report.

      They read it all right and discarded it... doesn't match with their set of beliefs.

      • People need to understand this kind of shit is not based on science, on logic, but on people being irrational.

        Here's a great example:

        I work for the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at a university. This means faculty here have electrical engineering PhDs, they've take classes on radio waves, understand how they work. These are not uneducated people, and they are educated in a relevant area.

        So a few years ago we got building wide WiFi. I mean complete, 100% coverage. Like 300-400 access points

  • Lets ban everything we can't prove it's harmless just in case. Like... I don't know... most food... drinks... gases... and surely politicians!
    • by c0lo (1497653)

      Lets ban everything we can't prove it's harmless just in case. Like... I don't know... most food... drinks... gases... and surely politicians!

      Please add lawyers to the list... and, well, just in case, statisticians, they found way too many correlations.

  • by nedlohs (1335013) on Monday May 16, 2011 @08:43PM (#36147716)

    that lack clear scientific and clinical proof.

    Fruit and vegetables, they might cause cancer.

    Reading and writing, who knows what damage they might be doing to people's eyes and wrists.

    Wearing clothing, who knows what such an unnatural activity does to our skin.

    • by syousef (465911)

      that lack clear scientific and clinical proof.

      Fruit and vegetables, they might cause cancer.

      Reading and writing, who knows what damage they might be doing to people's eyes and wrists.

      Wearing clothing, who knows what such an unnatural activity does to our skin.

      12 year old boys everywhere would rejoice!!!!

    • Tobacco smoking is the leading cause of death in most countries and yet we do nothing to restrict distribution of tobacco. Some countries even subsidize it's production.

      And we get this baloney?

    • Sadly, they are [independent.co.uk].
  • Instead of having to explain to students that excessive cell phone use, such as texting, during class is a large distraction to the educational process they would rather have the easier option of frightening them into submission with tales of "you'll get testicular cancer of the face!".

    Or maybe they're right and we're all going to die of WiFi poisoning during class.

    • by macshit (157376)

      It seems like they could address problems like texting with a "technical fix" though, e.g. special cell/wifi access points that only allow calls to 911 or registered parent phone numbers, etc. That way they'd avoid all the political problems (parents would probably even be in favor of it).

      OTOH, then they'd have to spend some money (and would probably end up being cheated by shady vendors)...

  • Does anyone really, really, I MEAN REALLY, understand how this EM crap works? I mean, just a few years ago, they discovered that effect, whatever they call it, friedsnell or something, where the stuff bounces back and hits other stuff. I think. And now they want to shoot RADIATION at us? BAN IT!!! What's next? Chernobyls on every street corner? Will someone PLEASE think of the children????

    /s
  • In the early 1990's I had the opportunity to work on a project developing calibrated, sensitive microwave thermocouple sensors to study the intensity of microwave radiation inside 'human head models generated by cellphones'. It is of possible interest that the work was funded by a major cellphone manufacturer, however, the source of the funding did not influence the integrity of the work. I also spent considerable time comprehending (at least, giving it a good try!) the mountain of literature of the epid
  • Electromagnetic waves can interfere constructively, in fact it's rare a given volume of space the dimensions of the wavelength has a single photon of that length in it. Any "safe limits" are very nominal, you could have harm occuring with much lower intensity EM.
    • by MachDelta (704883)

      Here's how my physics prof explained this to me years ago:

      A woman who is 4.5 months pregnant is traveling east.
      Another woman who is 4.5 months pregnant is traveling west.
      When they meet, the local "intensity" of babies is momentarily doubled (eg: 2)
      But when they meet, they will not instantly produce one baby.

      Same thing with photons - they don't merge, but if you measure their waveforms they might appear to.
      At least that's how I understand things - IANAP.

  • Europeans seem to have bought into this precautionary principle twaddle where everything that cannot be proven to be safe must banned.

    Of course that is utter rubbish, as there is no possible way to prove anything is safe. All this really means is that anything new is forbidden, a new form of Luddite-ism.

    Anyway, if low frequency EM is to be banned in schools, why isn't it banned elsewhere too? After all if we are going to protect children from this danger we must do it correctly. Mobile phones and WiFi are u

    • I think this is more of a case of the mad burghers in Brussels effect, when a beaurocratic committee is set up it needs to justify its existence and makes continually more bizarre pronouncements to do that. They are usually reined in before they can do any damage, but I think a lot of the trust people have in the EU is getting more and more eroded.

      • Except, you know, this is not a report from the European Union, it is from a committee in the assembly of the Council of Europe, which is an entirely different institution. It does not even rise to the level of a resolution and in any case those resolutions are always non-binding, as far as I can remember.

        And for the record, they're based in Strassbourg, not Brussels.

  • Please don't tell these idiots about the solar neutrino flux passing through their children's bodies every day. There is absolutely no proof that these neutrinos don't cause autism.
  • I fail to see why K-12 students need cell phones or wireless networks to learn a damned thing.

    Wired networks are a win from a management, reliability, latency and bandwidth perspective. Not being constantly distracted by stray text messages is something I would also check in the plus column.

    There is at least some credible evidence cell radiation is harmful especially to children. Given wireless technology simply is not required in any shape or form to educate students what precisely is the downside? If t

  • There are millions of things around us that have not been proven to be safe. Can you prove that eating off china plates is safe? If we use 'has not been proved safe' as our criterion, we will be paralysed, unable to do anything.

    It only makes sense to take a precautionary avoidance strategy if there is some evidence that harm could occur. Basically, you either need a plausible mechanism, or a plausible correlation between the potentially-harmful-thing and some form of harm. Leaded petrol and tobacco both hav

  • There is a proven possible danger from handsets. That is, there is a higher incidence of brain cancer in rats from massive exposures of mobile-band RF. And until we'll all been holding handsets to the side of our heads for 40 years that's about all the results we can reasonably expect from science.

    But as any consideration of the inverse-square law taught in those schools' physics classes will show, exposure from laptops and access points is orders of magnitude less than handsets.

    And that's what's really wro

  • by Eukariote (881204) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @02:46AM (#36150110)

    There is plenty of evidence for mutagenic and other negative effects of radio-frequency and microwave fields. Just a small sample: http://www.rrjournal.org/doi/abs/10.2307/3579911 [slashdot.org] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6T2D-4G7NFGG-1&_user=10&_coverDate=06%2F06%2F2005&_rdoc=1&_fmt=high&_orig=browse&_origin=browse&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=f82e85c25e8d4446ef498e2a2d93c83c [slashdot.org] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8627134 [slashdot.org]

    So why is this not widely known? Because people tend to not look beyond the headline spin, the parent post being a good example thereof. But also because industry-funded studies tend to generate biased results http://www.seattlemag.com/article/nerd-report/nerd-report [slashdot.org] which are then touted as "proof" that there is no ill effect.

  • by pandrijeczko (588093) on Tuesday May 17, 2011 @05:11AM (#36150786)

    ..because kids are there to LEARN not to piss about on Facebook and their mobile phones.

    Who gives a toss about the potential health issues, above is reason enough.

    I'd even go a stage further and line all school buildings so they block all GSM & Wifi signals - make sure the school secretary & parents swap contact phone numbers in case of emergencies, problem solved.

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