By Mark Leno and Ellie Marks July 21, 2020
In 2015, the city of Berkeley passed an ordinance requiring cell phone retailers to advise consumers, in a flyer at the point of sale, that keeping a cell phone in their pocket or near their body could expose them to wireless radiation above Federal Communications Commission safety levels. Councilmembers understood that manufacturers deceptively hide this federally mandated information deep within user manuals or in the phone that few ever see. The council also understood that cell phones are allowed to be tested for compliance away from the body— not as used.
A survey of Berkeley residents found overwhelming support for Berkeley’s ordinance. Eight-five percent of residents never saw recommendations from manufacturers about how to best protect against overexposure to cell phone radiation and 82% want this information at the point of sale.
America’s trade association representing the wireless communications industry (CTIA) challenged this ordinance all the way to the United States Supreme Court twice and lost every step of the way. Now this well-funded industry, along with support from the FCC, is again fighting to prevent the public from simple truthful information. Despite losing, the industry has now asked a federal court in California to rehear the case. Industry is repeating its failed argument that the FCC claims cell phones are safe no matter how used. A federal district court hearing is set in San Francisco for Thursday, July 23, on this motion.