FEDERAL JUDGE RULES AGAINST CTIA IN REGARD TO BERKELEY’S CELL PHONE RIGHT TO KNOW LAW
January 27, 2016 – Northern California
Berkeley’s radiation notice to cell phone buyers is back!
U.S. District Court Judge Edward M. Chen lifted the preliminary injunction that he had ordered last September delaying the implementation of the City of Berkeley’s new Ordinance that required retailers to distribute a notice to consumers about health risks from cell phone radiation.
This is great news for consumers!
CTIA (Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association) had sued the City of Berkeley, California over the City’s Cell Phone Right to Know Ordinance. In September Judge Chen rejected the CTIA’s claim that the Ordinance violated its First Amendment right. The only thing Judge Chen required of the City was to remove the part of the notice about children’s health risk.
The effect of removing the injunction is to allow implementation of the City’s Ordinance. In other words it allows the City of Berkeley to require retailers to post and distribute the notice to all cell phone buyers in Berkeley.
Ted Olson, one of several attorneys for the CTIA on the case, had sent Judge Chen 25 pages of further argument after his earlier order. The Judge agreed to allow further argument last week. Lawrence Lessig, Constitutional Law Professor at Harvard University, and Amanda Shanor of Yale Law School, represented the City of Berkeley pro bono.
The case is Case No. 15-cv-02529-EMC in the UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT, NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA. You can download the ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS’ MOTION TO DISSOLVE PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION here:
On Wednesday, less than one week after the court hearing, Judge Chen removed the preliminary injunction stopping the City from implementing its Ordinance despite CTIA’s numerous arguments. Chen also denied the CTIA’s motion to stay his Order dissolving the injunction pending appeal.
Berkeley’s notice at point of sale states:
“To assure safety, the Federal Government requires that cell phones meet radio frequency (RF) exposure guidelines. If you carry or use your phone in a pants or shirt pocket or tucked into a bra when the phone is ON and connected to a wireless network, you may exceed the federal guidelines for exposure to RF radiation. Refer to the instructions in your phone or user manual for information about how to use your phone safely.”
The Court required the City to strike seven words that were originally at the end of the 82-word notice: “This potential risk is greater for children.” The judge ruled that although this sentence may be factual, it can be argued that it is controversial because the FCC does not acknowledge that children’s exposure to cell phone radiation is greater than adults. For the facts supporting this assertion, see the following web page titled “Children are more exposed to cell phone radio-frequency radiation than adults.”
The Federal Communications Commission is the only federal agency that has set any sort of exposure limit to protect consumers against radio frequency (RF) radiation. FCC set its current limit in 1996 for cell phones, using industry data, and has not updated it since then.
That limit only seeks to prevent so called “thermal effect” (heating) and directly related health effects. It makes no effort to prevent “non thermal biological effects”. In 1999 FCC wrote that more research was needed on “non thermal effects”:
“In general, while the possibility of ‘non-thermal’ biological effects may exist, whether or not such effects might indicate a human health hazard is not presently known. Further research is needed to determine the generality of such effects and their possible relevance, if any, to human health.”
(Federal Communications Commission, Office of Engineering & Technology, “Questions and Answers about Biological Effects and Potential Hazards of Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields”, OET BULLETIN 56, Fourth Edition, August 1999, page 8)
and more specifically here:
You can also download the document from this site:
FCC wrote that statement in August, 1999. Assuming the statement was true at the time, does that give any assurance that wireless radiation does NOT cause harm in the form of “non-thermal” biological effects as of the year 2015? Or any time since the early 2000s when some of those hundreds of scientific studies were published? Of course not.
In March, 2013 FCC began a formal reassessment of the scientific literature on RF radiation and its exposure limit. Nearly three years later FCC has not completed this work, has not produced any preliminary or interim report or conclusions, and appears to have put the entire project on the shelf. This delay serves to further enrich the cell phone industry and harm consumers, putting off the (hopefully) inevitable day when FCC finally sets a biologically based emission limit, one that can actually protect public health.
CTIA and FCC are in the same bed. FCC’s page on Tom Wheeler, its Chairman, says, “From 1992 to 2004, Chairman Wheeler served as President and CEO of the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association (CTIA).” That is all one needs to know in order to know that FCC is totally co-opted, corrupt, and working for the profits of industry, even (or especially?) when industry’s profit motive conflicts with the health and safety of consumers.
For more information on FCC regulation of wireless radiation see: