San Francisco axes cellphone warning law in settlement with CTIA

The law would have required cellphone retailers to provide information about alleged dangers of cellphone radiation

San Francisco killed its cellphone radiation warning law on Tuesday by agreeing to settle a lawsuit by the mobile industry group CTIA.

The settlement, approved on Tuesday night by a 10-1 vote by the city's Board of Supervisors, ended a nearly three-year legal battle that sometimes brought to a boil the simmering debate over alleged health dangers from cellular radiation.

In February 2010, the city passed a law that would have required every store selling phones in the city to display the SAR (specific absorption rate) of radiation expected from each model of phone. The stores would also have to provide information about the possible dangers of cellphone radiation and tips for minimizing exposure.

CTIA sued almost immediately in federal court to have the law struck down. Among other things, CTIA argued that it was illegal for the city to regulate cellphone emissions because the Federal Communications Commission has the sole authority to do so. The FCC requires phones to fall under a certain level of radiation it considers safe.

In addition to suing, the group said it would no longer hold its CTIA Wireless trade show in San Francisco, dealing the city a potential economic blow.

San Francisco later scaled back the law, taking out the requirement to show each model's SAR but still requiring general warnings about radiation. CTIA sued again, saying the law would violate retailers' freedom of speech. It slammed the materials that the city proposed to require in stores, which would have included suggestions that users turn off their phones when not in use, limit children's phone use and keep a distance between phones and their bodies.

CTIA won its court battles all the way through the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, which ruled in March that the group was entitled to attorney's fees. Faced with the prospect of paying those fees, estimated at about US$500,000, the city settled with CTIA out of court. In the settlement, CTIA waived its right to attorney's fees and San Francisco pledged, among other things, that it isn't considering any more laws requiring disclosures of cellphone radiation.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags governmentmobileregulationlegalctiaCivil lawsuitsSan Francisco Board of Supervisors

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Stephen Lawson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?