Judge Nukes Parts of S.F. Cell Phone Radiation Notification Law

Ordinance in limbo that requires retailers to inform consumers about the purported effects of cellphone radiation.

by / October 28, 2011

A San Francisco ordinance that would have required retailers to inform consumers about the alleged effects of cellphone radiation has been partially struck down by a federal judge.

U.S. District Court Judge William Alsup ruled on Thursday, Oct. 27, that a fact sheet about the possible risks associated with mobile device usage —mandated by the notification law — was misleading because it gave the impression the devices are dangerous and unregulated.

CTIA-The Wireless Association, which represents the wireless industry, had sued San Francisco, arguing that San Francisco’s Cell Phone Right-to-Know ordinance is a violation of the First Amendment rights of cellphone retailers and conflicts with federal law regarding the safety of wireless devices.

Alsup noted that if any fact sheets were distributed, they would have to note the fact that the FCC has approved cellphones for normal use. In addition, Alsup blocked parts of the law that had required mobile device sellers to put warning stickers on cellphones and display posters — the judged calling those items unconstitutional.

The ordinance has been stayed until Nov. 30 to allow for both San Francisco and the CTIA to appeal the ruling.

In a statement on CTIA’s website, John Walls, the organization’s vice president of public affairs, said CTIA disagrees with the U.S. District Court’s ruling that San Francisco could distribute revised versions of the fact sheet. The CTIA is weighing its options regarding the appeal process, Walls said.