CTIA mum after court throws out S.F. cell phone radiation ordinance

A federal appeals court blocked San Francisco from enforcing an ordinance that would have required retailers to post signs and information warning customers of the potentially harmful effects of cell phone radiation. The court said that the city could not force retailers to distribute messages they disagree with. Meanwhile, the wireless industry's trade group stayed quiet in the wake of the ruling. 

The ordinance was supposed to go into effect in October 2011 but has been on hold due to court challenges from the CTIA.CTIA spokeswoman Amy Storey said the group did not have a comment.

The original ordinance, believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, would have required retailers to give each customer buying a cell phone a fact sheet noting the World Health Organization had classified phones' radio-frequency emissions as a "possible carcinogen." Retailers would have also been required to post similar messages on large wall posters and on stickers attached to display ads.

U.S. District Court Judge William Aslup ruled last fall that the ordinance went too far and ordered the city to change the fact sheet but said retailers could still be required to disclose undisputed facts about a "plausible public health threat." The wireless industry trade group said that even the narrowed ordinance still violates freedom of speech protections.

However, in its ruling Monday the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco blocked enforcement of the entire ordinance while the case continues. Now the city can ask the appeals court to review the case, it can go to the U.S. Supreme Court, or it can drop the issue.

In August the Government Accountability Office urged the FCC to revise its 16-year-old cell phone radiation standards, adding another layer to the debate over the health effects of cell phone radiation. In a 46-page report, the GAO, which is the investigative arm of Congress, noted that the FCC's existing cell phone radiation limits are based on recommendations from federal and international health organizations that have since updated their standards based new research.

For more:
- see this CNET article
- see this SF Chronicle article
- see this AP article

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