updated 10:40 pm EDT, Thu October 27, 2011
San Francisco law said misleading, not scientific
San Francisco's contested cellphone radiation warning law was at least temporarily denied on Thursday over scientific grounds. Judge William Alsup, the same judge overseeing Oracle's lawsuit against Google, said that the claim cellphones triggered cancer was a "debatable question" and that it was a "matter of opinion," not an incontestable fact the city could use to make laws. He added that the tone of the proposed fact sheet, which would post radiation levels, was "misleading" by implying that phones weren't just dangerous but had circumvented the law just by being on sale.
The ruling didn't completely side with the CTIA, the telecom-backed organization that sued to block the law. Judge Alsup believed San Francisco could require a fact sheet but had to phrase it to avoid the alarmist tone. In its arguments, the CTIA believed that just posting radiation levels was wrong and a free speech violation.
Either side can appeal before November 30. City officials have planned to contest the ruling; the CTIA isn't likely to object despite the opening for a radiation sheet.
Conflicting studies have surfaced for much of the past decade as to the possible cancer-inducing effect of cellphones. The WHO drew attention when it left the possibility open in a study, but a countering Danish report found no evidence, even after studying hundreds of thousands of residents for almost two decades. FCC officials so far haven't seen enough signs of trouble to warrant tougher regulation.