Cell Phone Companies Lose Mandatory Cellphone Radiation Warning Suit

Last year, Berkeley, California enacted an ordinance requiring cell phone retailers to post warnings on the potential dangers of cell phone radiation exposure. The City Council of Berkeley unanimously voted to enact the rule, known as the “Right to Know” ordinance. The ordinance initially required cell phone companies to provide a message to consumers stating: “To assure safety, the Federal Government requires that cell phones meet radio frequency (RF) exposure guidelines. 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. This potential risk is greater for children. Refer to the instructions in your phone or user manual for information about how to use your phone safely.”

CITA Lawsuit

CITA, a wireless trade group, filed a lawsuit against the city, claiming that the notice was in violation of First Amendment rights to free speech. CITA stopped a similar notice requirement proposed by San Francisco in 2013, effectively banning notices other than handouts giving a general statement that human bodies absorb RF energy and directing users to request fact sheets for more information. Berkeley contended that its notice was different from San Francisco’s, as it was not intended to encourage users to reduce cell phone usage; rather, the information was intended to give information in order to help users safely engage with devices. Consumers wanted this information, the city pointed out. The California Brain Tumor Association conducted a study in April 2015 and found that 70 percent of Berkeley adults did not know about the FCC’s minimum distance rule, and 82 percent wanted more information.

In September, a district court judge ruled in favor of Berkeley, allowing the notice to be required if the line “this potential risk is greater for children” was taken out. The judge temporarily banned the city from requiring the notice until the language was changed. Berkeley complied, and requested that the judge lift the injunction. In January this year, Judge Chen granted the city’s request, allowing the city to require cell phone carriers to provide the modified notice to customers. CITA plans to appeal the decision, stating that the ruling endangers First Amendment rights. The ordinance, the first law in the U.S. requiring cell phone companies to warn customers about risks of RF exposure, officially went into effect in March 2016.


If you need more information on dangers of cell phone RF exposure or believe you have suffered effects, contact the experienced cell phone cancer attorneys at Frasier, Frasier & Hickman, LLP at 918-548-4724 or contact us online today for answers to all of your questions.


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