CTIA-The Wireless Association® Files Challenge to San Francisco’s “Cell Phone Right-to-Know” Ordinance
WASHINGTON, Oct. 4, 2011 – Today, CTIA-The Wireless Association® asked a federal court to block the enforcement of San Francisco’s “Cell Phone Right-to-Know” ordinance. CTIA’s challenge argues that the Ordinance is barred under the First Amendment and conflicts with federal law governing the safety of wireless devices.
As CTIA explains in its motion, the Ordinance requires retailers to distribute misleading statements and graphics that send the false message that cell phones approved by the FCC are not safe. In fact, the FCC limits radiofrequency emissions from cell phones to ensure that phones sold in the U.S. emit RF energy far below levels shown in scientific testing to have any adverse health effects. The FCC’s standard includes a wide margin of safety for all users. Last year the FDA categorically concluded that there is “No Evidence Linking Cell Phone Use to Risk of Brain Tumors,” and earlier this year the Chairman of the FCC, Julius Genachowski, said that he was “confident that [the FCC's] standards are protecting the health of people.”
CTIA-The Wireless Association Vice President of Public Affairs John Walls released the following statement:
“The materials the City would require be posted and handed out at retail stores are both alarmist and false. The FCC and FDA have repeatedly found that cell phone use does not pose a danger to human health. The Ordinance recommends such things as turning the phone off when not in use, a suggestion that would render critical emergency communications unavailable to San Francisco residents.”
In July 2010, CTIA filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California challenging an earlier version of the Ordinance that would have required retailers to post misleading information about the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) values for each cell phone they sold. In response to the lawsuit, the City amended the Ordinance to eliminate the SAR disclosure requirement. But the City’s second version of the law is even worse than its first. The new Ordinance directly challenges the FCC’s determination that wireless handsets are safe by mandating that retailers tell consumers that there are “potential health effects” from FCC-compliant cell phones and that they should use their phones less and keep them turned off. It also requires that retailers post and distribute alarmist graphics and misleading statements that send a clear message that the RF energy emitted from these phones is dangerous and should be avoided.
CTIA seeks a preliminary injunction from the Court because the City has set the compliance date for later this month. The City’s warning materials create the false impression that the FCC’s standards are insufficient, suggest that phones are dangerous, and urge consumers to limit their use and turn them off when not in use. The materials also suggest, without any credible scientific basis, that children are at special risk. If the millions of wireless subscribers in the Bay Area heed the City’s misguided warning to avoid cell phones, use them less, and turn them off when not in use, it will limit the value and convenience cell phones provide and impact public safety by limiting access to 911 and emergency alerts that can save lives in emergencies.