CTIA Asks Supreme Court to Overturn Berkeley, California, Cell Phone Warning Mandate

It is not exactly news that the cell phone industry denies any link between radio-frequency (RF) exposure and serious health problems such as cancer. But what may surprise is you the lengths the industry will go to even avoid discussing the subject. In fact, the main lobbying arm of the nation’s telecommunications industry recently asked the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a local ordinance that merely requires cell phone retailers to remind customers of existing federal safety rules.

The ordinance in question was adopted by the city council of Berkeley, California, in 2015. As currently worded, the local law requires a retailer who sells or leases cell phones to provide each customer with the following notice:

The City of Berkeley requires that you be provided the following notice: 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. Refer to the instructions in your phone or user manual for information about how to use your phone safely.

CTIA – The Wireless Association sued Berkeley and asked a federal judge to issue a preliminary injunction to prevent enforcement of this notice requirement. Both a district court and later the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco denied the injunction request. In an April 2017 opinion, a divided three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit flatly rejected CTIA’s claims that Berkeley’s ordinance constituted “compelled speech” that violated its members’ First Amendment rights.

As the Ninth Circuit explained, Berkeley is allowed to compel businesses to make “purely factual” disclosures to consumers so long as they are “related to a substantial governmental interest.” Here, the Court said there could be “no question that protecting the health and safety of consumers is a substantial governmental interest.” Indeed, all Berkeley has done here is to ensure consumers understand that the Federal Communications Commission already imposes limits on RF exposure from wireless devices–and that the phone they are buying complies with these limits. The City was well within its discretion to help educate consumers who “are largely unaware of the FCC policy and of the information in their user manuals.”

Unfortunately, CTIA does not accept the Ninth Circuit and Berkeley’s common-sense reasoning. On January 9, 2018, the group asked the Supreme Court to review and reverse the Ninth Circuit’s decision and enjoin the Berkeley ordinance. The justices are expected to consider this request during a private conference on February 16, 2018. Berkeley did not file a reply to the CTIA’s petition, which is not unusual in these types of cases. The truth is the Supreme Court only agrees to hear a few dozen cases each year out of the thousands of petitions submitted for review.

Has RF Exposure Harmed You? We Can Help

Cities like Berkeley have been forced to take action as the federal government itself remains tethered to outdated standards for assessing the health risks of RF exposure. If you or a loved one have developed a serious health condition and believe RF exposure may be responsible, you need to speak with a qualified cell phone cancer attorney who can review your case and outline your legal options going forward. Call the offices Frasier, Frasier & Hickman, LLP, at (918) 584-4724 or contact us online to schedule a consultation today.January 29, 2018




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