Fight Over Berkeley Cellphone Warnings Returns to Court


MARIA DINZEO July 23, 2020

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) — The city of Berkeley’s five-year battle with the wireless industry over cellphone-radiation warnings came to a head Thursday before a federal judge, who will decide whether the city’s 2015 ordinance requiring retailers to provide guidance on avoiding radio-frequency exposure is pre-empted by federal law.

The required disclosure states in part: “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 [radio frequency] radiation.”

The disclosure instructs consumers to refer to the user manual for more information. The law also allows retailers to add their own messages to the disclosure.

The Cellular Telephone Industries Association (CTIA), a wireless industry trade group, challenged Berkeley’s ordinance in June 2015. The group claimed the law violates the First Amendment by forcing retailers to spread a misleading, government-crafted message.

The fight is currently unfolding alongside a federal class action in San Francisco over cellphone radiation, where consumers claim Apple failed to warn them certain iPhones exceed the radio-frequency compliance standards set by the Federal Communications Commission.

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