Judge tosses most of SF cellphone warning law

Posted by Emma Woollacott

A federal judge has thrown out most provisions of a San Francisco law requiring phone retailers to display the amount of radiation emitted by each device.

The Cell Phone Right to Know Ordinance, introduced last year, required them to display the specific absorption rate (SPR) of each phone. These figures are published by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

But the CTIA-The Wireless Association sued last year over the issue, saying the messages were misleading.

And US District Judge William Alsup yesterday agreed, ruling that the warning was unlawful, and that the City of San Francisco can't consitutionally force retailers to display the messages.

In addition, he said, the fact sheet produced by the City was indeed misleading and alarmist, as it implied that there were accepted dangers with cellphones. The fact sheet needed significant changes, he said, such as including the fact that the FCC has approved cell phones for normal use.

However, the judge didn't go far enough to satisfy the CTIA.

"CTIA respectfully disagrees with the Court's determination that the City could compel distribution of the revised 'fact sheet' as discussed in the court's opinion," says John Walls, the CTIA's vice president for public affairs.

"CTIA is considering its options regarding further proceedings on this issue."

The issue of cellphone radiation has caused a great deal of controversy. The World Health Organization recently alarmed many by reclassifying cellphones as possibly carcinogenic.

However, a study billed as the biggest ever on the subject recently found that there was no link between cellphone radiation ald brain tumors.