updated 12:30 pm EDT, Fri May 6, 2011
San Francisco stalls phone radiation law effect
San Francisco has effectively dropped its cellphone radiation warning law this week by postponing it without a new enforcement date. The bill, which was to have required clear radiation levels posted next to phones in stores, had already been delayed twice and would have taken effect June 15. City Supervisor John Avalos explained to the Chronicle that the law was likely to come back but would have "somewhat less" information than originally planned, such as a guide to reducing radiation exposure.
Although not publicly discussed, insiders told the newspaper that the CTIA lawsuit against San Francisco was a factor in the change of heart. City attorneys had met two times with supervisors both to warn about the consequences of the lawsuit and also to warn of the dangers of the new law, even to those who supported it. Among the risks were that the labels might inadvertently lead users to buy in just the opposite direction.
The SAR (specific absorption rate) units used to measure radiation have themselves been criticized since they measure peaks, not sustained radiation.
The CTIA, a pro-carrier organization headed up primarily by AT&T and Verizon, has always objected to the law because it would discourage cellphone use. Members have insisted that the FCC's mandatory testing was enough and used both the lawsuit and a decision to pull the CTIA fall show from San Francisco as retaliation for the tougher standards.
Supporters of the originally established law, such as the Environmental Working Group's Renee Sharp, have accused the CTIA of "bullying" the city by using its financial clout to avoid confronting the problem.