In a legal dispute that started last year and will continue despite the most recent ruling, a California judge determined a cell phone radiation warning ordinance that was proposed last year in the city of Berkeley is allowable. A subtle tweak made to the original language of the ordinance helped to achieve this result, but as ArsTechnica.com reported, it won’t stop an appeal from the other side.
Last year, the city of Berkeley passed an ordinance that would require cell phone retailers to display a written warning on the potential dangers of radiation on a mounted poster or printed handouts. The original warning approved by the city council read as follows:
“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. This potential risk is greater for children. Refer to the instructions in your phone or user manual for information about how to use your phone safely.”
The law was quickly challenged by CTIA, the international wireless trade group, on the basis that it violated a company’s First Amendment rights. While the First Amendment protects the right to freedom of speech, lawyers for the CTIA argued that the government was in fact forcing specific speech upon unwilling company’s.
United States District Judge Edward Chen was the ultimate adjudicator in the case and decided that the law should be upheld, with the stipulation that one line be struck from the ordinance: “This potential risk is greater for children.”
There are arguments on both sides of the debate when it comes to electromagnetic fields (EMF) and radiation from personal devices like cell phones and laptops. Proponents of EMF protection were certainly happy about the results in Berkeley.
Naturally, the CTIA is refuting claims that there are any tangible dangers and released a statement indicating that they will be appealing Judge Chen’s decision to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.