San Francisco’s Cellphone Radiation Disclosure Law Struck Down

Posted on April 17, 2013

In recent years, the city of San Francisco sought to blaze a safety trail with the passage of a law that required cellphone retailers to explain to consumers the potential radiation danger they were put in when they purchased a cellular device.  Specifically, every purchase of a cellphone would have required the disclosure of radiation emission levels and a Fact Sheet warning that users need to keep the phones sufficiently far away from reproductive organs and the brain.  Similar posters also would have been erected in stores.

But the passage of that law in 2010 triggered a lengthy legal battle that now might finally be reaching its conclusion.  CTIA-The Wireless Association, a cellular trade group, sued San Francisco, citing First Amendment protection afforded to merchants who don’t have to hand out information they don’t agree with.

At the federal level, the law was upheld minus the radiation warnings (a fact sheet would have still been required), but a federal appeals court overturned the decision in September, explaining that San Francisco’s opinion couldn’t be used to mandate the law.  Radiation dangers have to be indisputably and scientifically proven.

Although the two sides would have been back in court in February of next year, a settlement has now been reached which will see the law struck down.  And citizens won’t be forced to pay the estimated six figure attorney fees thought to be accumulated by San Francisco’s lawyers in the case.  Approval by the Board of Supervisors is pending.

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