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Friday, 10 May 2013 16:20

San Francisco backs down on mobile phone radiation labeling

Written by Nick Farrell



Lawyers win

San Francisco reluctantly agreed to drop a controversial ‘radiation labelling scheme’ for new mobile phones, not because there was anything wrong with the idea, but because it can’t afford to fight phone companies in court.

The city had proposed a local law requiring retailers to warn consumers about the radiation levels of the mobile handsets they are buying. However mobile phone industry insisted that there was no evidence of harm from phones and the law was wrong. But the decision to back down seems to be a result of legal costs, rather than a resolution of fears about phone radiation.

The city’s Board of Supervisors voted on Tuesday to settle a lawsuit with the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association, a trade body which represents most of the mobile phone operators in the United States. San Francisco reluctantly accepted a permanent injunction against the right-to-know mobile phone ordinance, after the trade body successfully argued in court that the law violated its free-speech rights. The mobile industry trade body had argued that the law misled consumers about the relative risks posed by mobile phones and contradicted the FCC’s determination that all wireless phones legally sold in the Unites States are safe.

In other words it was defeated by aggressive legal tactics from the phone companies. Ellen Marks, an advocate for the measure said the move was a terrible blow to public health. Her husband suffers from a brain tumour on the same side of his head to which he most often held his mobile phone. Of course if people do start dropping dead from brain tumours, then it is fairly likely that they will sue the government alongside the phone companies. But that will be decades into the future, if it every happens.

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