In the wake of COVID-19, the GSOC were informed by a Mitie telecoms customer that individuals were attacking and severely damaging 5G masts. The attacks were motivated by misconception that 5G masts were in some way connected to the spread of the Coronavirus. 

Activist groups opposed to the implementation of 5G telecommunications technology are not a new phenomenon; they have existed for years, campaigning on a platform that the technology is perceived to cause ill-health, is a tool of government oppression and surveillance, and is a weapon in disguise.

In April 2020, 5G detractors started linking the deployment of 5G technology in China with the COVID-19 outbreak, believing the overlapping timelines to be evidence that 5G is the root cause of the pandemic

Our team of analysts used open source intelligence techniques to link known offences reported by the client, to social media users in similar areas who appeared to have a grudge against the use of 5G. Further exploration of these users identified that they had posted footage of damage to masts they had boasted to have vandalised. 

Mitie set up a small task force with other telecoms intelligence professionals to share intelligence and corroborate with each other in the group. This approach led by Mitie assisted in providing accurate, reliable and actionable intelligence for the police which was formally handed over. It resulted in the arrests of offenders and a reduction in the interruption of the UK’s internet infrastructure, particularly important during the Coronavirus crisis.