Mobile Phone Radiation Warning Sign Sparks First Amendment Battle in the U.S. – Newsweek

In the back of the Apple Store in Berkeley, California, at the end of the bar where those “geniuses” repair iPhones and MacBooks, is a placard with this warning: “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.” Read the safety instructions in the manual, it tells consumers. Or else.

The Apple Store posted the notice to comply with a Berkeley city ordinance—the first in the nation—requiring retailers to alert consumers to the federal guidelines for safe cellphone use. The warning drew little attention when I visited that Apple Store in October. But such notices drew the attention—and the ire—of CTIA, a trade association representing some of the nation’s largest cellphone manufacturers and carriers, including Apple, Samsung, Verizon and AT&T. CTIA went to court, arguing that Berkeley’s notice infringes on cellphone retailers’ First Amendment rights. The ordinance, it said, forced retailers to “distribute its one-sided, innuendo-laden, highly misleading and scientifically unsupported opinion on a matter of public controversy.” Berkeley maintains in court documents that the notice is “nothing but an arrow that points to the very manuals written by manufacturers.”

The so-called right-to-know ordinance has sparked an epic dispute between two of the nation’s foremost, and formidable, legal titans.

CTIA hired Theodore Olson, a former solicitor general who argued the case that put George W. Bush in the White House and is considered one of the nation’s most effective U.S. Supreme Court advocates. Berkeley is represented by Lawrence Lessig, a Harvard law professor and cyberlaw expert who last year ran for president as a Democrat to push for an overhaul of campaign finance. The two are now jousting over the Berkeley ordinance in federal court.

Lessig, who helped craft the Berkeley ordinance in a way that he hoped would withstand a cellphone industry lawsuit, is not charging the city for his services. He volunteered because he believes corporations discourage governments from imposing regulations by filing First Amendment lawsuits that are prohibitively expensive to defend, he tells Newsweek. “I’m a constitutional scholar, and I am very concerned,” he says.

U.S. District Judge Edward Chen of San Francisco allowed the Berkeley cellphone warning law to take effect in January. In a hearing last year, Chen read from an iPhone manual cautioning that the device could exceed federal radiation-exposure guidelines if carried closer than five-eighths of an inch from the body. “The mandated disclosure truthfully states that federal guidelines may be exceeded where spacing is not observed, just as the FDA accurately warns that ‘tobacco smoke can harm your children,’” Chen wrote.

The wireless association appealed Chen’s decision to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. In September, Olson and Lessig debated the matter before a three-judge panel. The judges are expected to issue a written ruling in the next few months.

Read the full article at:  Radiation Waring Sign Sparks First Amendment Battle 

Don’t forget, Professor Leszczynski from the University of Helsinki will be speaking in Melbourne on the harmful effects of wireless technology on Sunday 20 November.  Click here for more information. 

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12 Responses to Mobile Phone Radiation Warning Sign Sparks First Amendment Battle in the U.S. – Newsweek

  1. Anonymous says:

    You don’t seem to understand Tom that you nor anyone else can say any device is safe, regardless of measurements or safety factors, this is impossible. You cannot state with any certainty that any standard will protect or does protect. You would have to expose every single man, woman and child to have this information and this would take thousands if not millions of years. .
    You speak in technical words, yet these words don’t mean much to people that are sick or will become sick. Whether a device complies with exposure limits is not the problem, the problem is that you nor anyone else in this whole world can state what a safe exposure limit is for each and everyone of us, this is the problem, a one size fits all approach.
    The health issue is very complex and this itself is a problem, you need money and genuine research to find out why so many are sick. You have claimed ” As a result, exposure well above the specified SAR limit should not create an unsafe condition”
    You use the word “should” but you are talking about people’s health and well being. You use the word “should” this is your opinion and not fact.
    You use the word “should” but would you put your family at risk Tom?
    Would you put your family at risk Tom on the basis of your claim below?
    As a result, exposure well above the specified SAR limit should not create an unsafe condition”
    We are not just speaking about a couple of thousand of people being exposed its millions and millions of people and children that have not ever been born yet. Cancer rates are increasing this is fact and so are many other illnesses, i am sure people were also told that asbestos and tobacco should be safe, this is just not good enough.
    But unlike tobacco and asbestos the amount of people exposed won’t be as significant as cellphone radiation, we have young children exposed in the womb even before they have had a chance to see the world, these children might not ever get to grow up.
    Not every one smokes or smoked and not everyone was exposed to asbestos but we, every single one of us has now been exposed to radiation everyday, every minute and every second from multiple sources constantly. Your SAR limits mean nothing and can’t protect everyone and this is fact.
    I feel sorry for the children that have been born and have yet to be born and i hope and pray that the experts are completely wrong in stating this radiation is so dangerous and can cause cancer and other health problems. I hope they are wrong, but what if they aren’t Tom? Should we feel safer on the basis that “exposure well above the specified SAR limit should not create an unsafe condition” What is an unsafe condition Tom, perhaps you can clarify this?

    • Tom Whitney says:

      You need to follow the link to FCC-13-39 to fully explore your questions.

      The post is not my opinion – it is just a paragraph from the FCC document that addresses the issue of safe RF exposures. I understand that no study can ever conclude something is absolutely ‘safe’. I also understand that studies and expert reviews so far have not concluded that RF exposures below regulatory limits cause adverse health effects.

      By the way, you are mistaken that cancer incidence is increasing. The fact is that incidence rates are flat or decreasing – at least in the English speaking countries which have well established and reliable cancer registries.

      Check out the reviews:

      • Steve says:

        Tom, you really need to open your eyes. Cancer is now the leading course of death in Australia, the WHO claimed in 2014 we are faced with a cancer tidal wave (we have gone from 1 in 12 males getting cancer in my grand parents day to 1 in 2). Brain cancers are also the leading cause of death in young children. Of course I don’t expect an electrical engineer to know all that much about biological effects, oxidative stress, circadian rhythm disruption and a host of other neuological, endocrine and immune system effects. You should probably stick to the pro industry forums, they are more in tune with your thinking.

      • Anonymous says:

        Tom, i don’t need to follow the link to explore my questions, i asked you questions, why would i explore questions i asked you. By the way Tom, thyroid cancer has increased in Australia and this information i got from an expert in person. You are the one that is wrong. Australia is an English speaking country Tom, so you are wrong.
        Even if cancer rates were flat or decreasing that does not make RF standards safe nor does it prove anything. We do have well established cancer registries in this country and that is why the expert i spoke to could give me this information.
        Are you saying that non English speaking countries do not have reliable and accurate cancer statistics? Because i am sure they do. Its not just the English speaking countries that have reliable cancer statistics.
        The post is your opinion and you got your information from other people’s opinions. That makes it an opinion. You do not have facts and i think i covered this with you. Perhaps you can post facts, for e.g can you give me a list of the experts you speak of and the studies as well?

      • Anonymous says:

        Tom, can you name the experts you speak of?
        Can you define what an expert is?
        Can you tell me who decides who is an expert?
        Do these experts have ties to the industry are they funded by the industry?
        You use the word understand, it is up to the individual to understand what is written and decide for themselves if its the truth. The facts are that a risk exists, this is fact.
        As for conclusive evidence, you would have to run tests on all of us and this costs money, time and then you have to take into account the harm it will cause.
        I don’t have to check out your reviews, they are your understanding and not mine.

  2. Tom Whitney says:

    See what the FCC has to say on this issue:

    Click to access FCC-13-39A1.pdf

    251. Commission calculations similar to those in Appendix D suggest that some devices may
    not be compliant with our exposure limits without the use of some spacer to maintain a separation distance when body-worn, although this conclusion is not verifiable for individual devices since a test without a spacer has not been routinely performed during the body-worn testing for equipment authorization. Yet, we have no evidence that this poses any significant health risk. Commission rules specify a pass/fail criterion for SAR evaluation and equipment authorization. However, exceeding the SAR limit does not necessarily imply unsafe operation, nor do lower SAR quantities imply “safer” operation. The limits were set with a large safety factor, to be well below a threshold for unacceptable rises in tissue temperature. As a result, exposure well above the specified SAR limit should not create an unsafe condition. We note that, even if a device is tested without a spacer, there are already certain separations built into the SAR test setup, such as the thickness of the mannequin shell, the thickness of the device exterior case, etc., so we seek comment on the implementation of evaluation procedures without a spacer for the body-worn testing configuration. We also realize that SAR measurements are performed while the device is operating at its maximum capable power, so that given typical operating conditions, the SAR of the device during normal use would be less than tested. In sum, using a device against the body without a spacer will generally result in actual SAR below the maximum SAR tested; moreover, a use that possibly results in non-compliance with the SAR limit should not be viewed with significantly greater concern than compliant use.

  3. Cameron Taylor says:

    New Results From Interphone

    “The correct interpretation of this study is simply that it confirms an increased risk for glioma associated with mobile phone use.”

  4. dana says:

    Good on Lawrence Lessig. It is a shame that it has become so difficult in this day and age to get the truth out there. Really this warning is so watered down compared to the sort of warning that should be issued but at least it’s a start and it might make some people think. What we need now is a warning from the medical community in Australia that gives a realistic picture of what the health effects could be. It’s unfortunate that most doctors are basically ignorant on the subject of mobile phone health effects. Doctors need to work together and back up truth speakers. If the medical community in Australia had spoken out it wouldn’t have been possible to sack all of the Catalyst team for telling the truth about slack mobile phone safety standards in Australia. I really feel that the Australian medical community (apart from a few heroic individuals) is letting Australia down. Why don’t we hear from you as a group? Many people are suffering every day and hoping for some help so please speak up.

  5. Tony Baron says:

    I don’t quite understand; does that mean it is dangerous to carry a mobile phone whilst it’s turned on – unless it is more than 5/8″ (13mm or so) away from the body?

    • Aussie Battler says:

      Yes it does. RF exposure it cumulative. Profound health effects can take time to manifest.

    • Tanya says:

      Tony, yes! In fact, I wouldn’t say it is safe to carry a mobile phone 1″ from your body or 2″ from your body. These figures are probably arbitrary and who can say what is a safe distance?

    • Ralf says:

      As it says “When the phone is ON and connected to a wireless network, you may exceed the federal guidelines for exposure to RF radiation”.

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