[Press release] Phonegate : New legal proceedings against ANFR and initial reaction to the communiqué of Nicolas Hulot

[Press release] Phonegate : New legal proceedings against ANFR and initial reaction to the communiqué of Nicolas Hulot
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Initial reaction to the communiqué of Nicolas Hulot

By coincidence, our second legal action comes the same day as the launch of an information campaign by Nicolas Hulot, Minister for the Ecological and Inclusive Transition, on the six proper uses of mobile phones.  Our mobilization to obtain from the public authorities a better awareness of users bears fruit.  We regret, however, that this initial position of the Minister is to a large extent part of the denial of the health risks by the industrial sector.  Contrary to what has been stated in his communiqué, the measures proposed seem to us to be far removed from the important recommendations of the French National Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety (ANSES) in its July 2016 report, “Exposure to Radiofrequencies and Child Health”.

We also note that despite our letter of June 2017 asking him to take action on the controversial health and industrial scandal of Phonegate, this sensitive issue remains totally ignored by Nicholas Hulot who takes no preventive measures with regard to the use of a mobile phone in contact with the body.  Nor is there any proposal to study the possibility of removing brands and models of mobile phones with SAR thresholds far above the limit values.  At this stage, we can only note a certain disappointment in the initial position of Nicolas Hulot on this public health issue, especially as he has always proclaimed loud and clear his priority to protect the health of the French people.

Press release of 2 December 2017

The struggle for transparency with the National Frequencies Agency (ANFR) is not easy.  Until now, only legal actions and pressure from the Commission for Access to Administrative Documents (CADA) have forced ANFR on June 1, 2017 to report essential but incomplete data on the thresholds of protection of the health of mobile phone users.  It has been sixteen months since ANFR refused to provide full reports on the measurements of mobile phones tested since 2012 in near contact** or in contact with the skin.

 In its report Exposure to Radiofrequencies and Child Health, published on July 8, 2016, ANSES relies on the completeness of the reports in order to urge the public authorities to “develop an indicator representing the actual exposure of users to mobile phones” and “to ensure under all circumstances compliance with regulatory limit values of exposure regardless of the conditions of use (placing them in contact with the body).”

During these sixteen months, also with the public authorities, ANFR did everything to gain time, forcing us again to go to court.  With regard to the importance of having access to the data, the right of appeal was chosen, an appeal filed before the Administrative Tribunal of Melun on December 1, 2017. 

Essential data

The tests conducted by ANFR to check mobile phones placed for sale on the French market are carried out by approved laboratories, or more rarely by the Agency itself.  These tests are the subject of a complete report of measurements representing thirty signed pages.  This information is essential in view of the public health issues.

We are therefore asking that the administrative court authorize disclosure of all test results for each manufacturer and their models concerned.  Likewise, we would like all written exchanges (letters, Emails) between ANFR and ANSES within the framework of the report published by ANSES in July 2016, to be communicated to us.

What is ANFR’s reversal hiding ?

In July 2016, Gilles Brégant, Director General of ANFR, made a written commitment to Dr. Marc Arazi to make public the full reports in September 2017.  According to the senior official, the delay invoked was justified by the importance of the data, namely several thousand pages.  To date, the full reports have still not been made available.

We learned that at the same time, ANFR hired in the April 2017 a new Deputy Director in charge of the Spectrum Division, supervising inter alia the controls of the Specific Absorption Rates (SAR) of mobile phones.  Catherine Gabay was chosen for this post.

The professional profile of Catherine Gabay raises a question.  For the past seven years, she has been in charge of the institutional and regulatory directorate of the Iliad Group and of Free Mobile.  Before this, she had joined the Movement of French Enterprises (MEDEF) and the cabinet of the Ministry of National Education.  In the middle of the Phonegate scandal, ANFR chooses to strengthen its team with an experienced lobbyist known for her public positions in favor of the industry.

Stop conflicts of interest

We vigorously denounce the lack of respect for the neutrality that a national agency must have on such an important public health issue as well as the obvious conflict of interest in seeing such a person in charge of this position.

* the origin of the term comes from Pierre Le Hir (Le Monde, December 23, 2016) « Soupçons sur les ondes des téléphones portables »

** maximum 5 millimeters

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