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The city Board of Supervisors voted in favor of a settlement on Tuesday

The city of San Francisco has lost the right to place warnings about cell phone radiation levels in its retail stores.

San Francisco was the first U.S. city to pass an ordinance that required retailers to warn consumers about cell phone radiation before they made the purchase. However, the city lost a court battle with the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) -- which is comprised of companies like AT&T, Verizon, Samsung and Apple -- and will now lift the ordinance from city retailers.

The city Board of Supervisors voted in favor of a settlement on Tuesday, where San Francisco agrees to drop the ordinance. In exchange, the CTIA will waive its claims for attorney fees that would have amounted to about $500,000. 

"I am for pushing the envelope on something as important as this, but I think the legal reality is such that if we do not approve this settlement, we're talking about having to pay half a million in legal fees," Supervisor David Campos said. "It's a very tough situation, but the last thing I want is to have the general fund give half a million dollars to lawyers in this case."

The ordinance went into effect in 2011, where retailers had to tell customers that gadgets like cell phones emit potentially cancer-causing radiation. The city even wanted to post that the World Health Organization (WHO) deemed cell phones "possibly carcinogenic," but a judge blocked this part of the ordinance, since WHO said more research was needed to back that claim. 

The CTIA filed a lawsuit against the city, saying that the ordinance violated the industry's First Amendment rights. 

A ruling in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last year said that San Francisco had to prove that scientists agreed with its claims about cell phone radiation. It also had to prove that the FCC no longer believed they were safe for consumers to use.

San Francisco decided to take a settlement offer in the end with the CTIA. 

Sources: NBC News, SF Gate



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RE: First amendment rights?
By boeush on 5/9/2013 12:42:09 PM , Rating: 2
Forcing someone to say something they do not wish to say, is an affront to freedom of speech. Particularly so when saying such a thing potentially damages the coerced. For instance, how about forcing everyone applying for a job to publically declare that they are a potential liar, thief, sociopath, and mass murderer? Well, it's technically true, isn't it...


RE: First amendment rights?
By NellyFromMA on 5/9/2013 1:18:28 PM , Rating: 2
You mean like when your potential employer insists you provide your social media contact information for review?


RE: First amendment rights?
By MozeeToby on 5/9/2013 1:33:57 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, exactly like that. If someone your employer asks for it and you say no and get punished contact the EFF and/or the ACLU. If you're a good test case they will gladly pay your legal costs.

Of course, in the meantime you're out of a job and that sucks, which is why most people give in, which is why it goes largely unchallenged.


RE: First amendment rights?
By LucyDoggie on 5/11/2013 8:56:34 PM , Rating: 2
Every cell phone manual has consumers warnings hidden in the legal fine print that caution against using a cell phone against the body. Doing so will expose the user to microwave radiation that exceeds the FCC exposure limit. The 2012 GAO report verified this and stated that the FCC's 17 year old standards are outdated and need to be re-assessed.

It is not a 1st amendment violation to mandate that a cell phone retailer tells their customers about safety information hidden in the user manual that no one reads. But, somehow, the inexperienced and outgunned City Attorney failed to effectively argue this point to the Court.

The World Health Organization has reviewed all the science to date and declared that cell phone radiation IS a possible carcinogen due to an increased risk of developing a brain tumor on the same side of the head the phone is typically held. The science is clear now about this - the industry can spin this and make statements that aren't true - but, the facts speak for themselves.

A recent study of brain tumor rates in California determined that brain tumors are increasing in the areas of the brain closest to where a cell phone is held (Zada et al, 2012)

Another FACT (according to court documents) is that the City currently owes zero dollars in attorney fees to the cell phone industry. The City Attorney posed a hypothetical amount of $500,000 IF the city appealed and went to the Supreme Court - and IF they then subsequently lost.

But, money talks. AT&T, Verizon, Apple, etc. own San Francisco - they pressured the Mayor to do whatever it takes to drop the case - and they got their way.


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