Who will win this legal battle that cuts to the very core of our democratic principles?
Last May, the World Health Organization (WHO), after reviewing all the scientific studies to date, announced that cell phone exposure can possibly cause malignant brain tumors. This set the industry’s PR team on fire, spinning all sorts of tales meant to confuse the media and the public and ultimately, to create more doubt.
Yet, the fact remains – THE international scientific body of experts examined all peer-reviewed, published studies and voted almost unanimously (all except one) to warn the world that exposure to cell phone radiation can possibly cause cancer. (WHO declares cell phones possible carcinogen)
We want to believe what the industry tells us.
No one wants to believe that these marvelous technological products used by over 90% of the US population can possibly harm us! But, it is now becoming apparent that executives from Apple, Motorola, Samsung, AT&T, Verizon, CTIA – Wireless Association, etc. who profit substantially from their trillion dollar industry will only tell us the truth about their products’ safety if they are legally forced to do so.
San Francisco is attempting to do this very thing – force the unwilling industry executives to tell the truth to consumers. Last year, the city’s board of supervisors voted unanimously to require that known facts and safe use instructions be made available to the public at the point of sale – known facts such as the WHO announcement and manufacturers’ own safety warnings hidden in the technical, fine print of every user manual to never hold or use a cell phone directly against the body. (The cell phone radiation safety warning your cell phone’s manufacturer doesn’t want you to see)
Known facts….not opinions or baseless fears. San Francisco simply wants to give citizens the information and allow them to make informed decisions about possibly purchasing holsters or headsets to reduce exposure – or limiting use by their children whose brains have been shown to absorb up to twice as much radiation as allowed by the federal safety guidelines.
We all want to believe our cell phones are safe.
We want to believe the industry’s assurances that cell phones can be used against the head for as long as we want, or used in a shirt or pants pocket all day connected to a Bluetooth ear piece. We want to believe that they are safe enough for children to sleep with turned on and connected to a network while under their pillows all night.
But, the facts tell a different story. And, the CTIA’s attorneys who represent the cell phone industry are engaged in a legal battle against the City of San Francisco which declared that their citizens have a right to know these facts and retailers must inform consumers of the potential health risks as well as the manufacturers’ own suggested safe ways to use cell phones.
This information is especially relevant regarding use by children. Peer-reviewed, published studies have shown that the brains of children can absorb up to twice as much radiation as adults’ brains. (Environmental Health Trust study)
US District Court Judge William Alsup ruled on the case in October that the City of San Francisco was justified in requiring facts about known health risks from cell phone radiation exposure, as well as suggestions for safe use, to be disclosed to consumers at the point of sale.
The industry disagreed with the District Court’s ruling and filed an appeal in the US 9th Circuit Court. The CTIA attorneys plan to repeat their arguments that having to disclose such “alarming and misleading” information would potentially hurt their sales and therefore violates their corporate 1st Amendment rights.
They will once again attempt to convince the court that handing out a fact sheet about their products’ known health risks will give their customers the wrong impression that cell phones are not safe. Yet, in a bizarre and ironic twist, the industry itself is very careful to point out that they have NEVER said cell phones are safe. (Is anyone saying cell phones are safe?)
The truth is hidden in the fine print of everyone’s user manual.
Indeed they are not saying cell phones are safe as proven by the fact that in the technical fine print of every product booklet is a manufacturer warning to never use or carry a cell phone directly against the body as doing so will expose the user to radiation that may exceed the federal safety guidelines. (Warning: Never carry or use your cell phone in your pocket!)
“They [San Francisco] are not trying to stop cell phones from being sold,” declared Judge Alsup in the hearing last October. “They’re trying to give customers some tips – that’s really the way to describe it – tips on how to reduce exposure to cell phones. And, if it’s true that the industry’s own manuals call out the same problem, what’s wrong with that?”
In the past two years, concerned legislators in Hawaii, California, New York, Connecticut, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Oregon and Maine have proposed similar “right to know” legislation to inform citizens about the known health risks and manufacturers’ own warnings about safe use precautions for cell phones. Several of these legislators were threatened with lawsuits by CTIA executives and others have stated that their colleagues admitted they could not vote to adopt a “right to know” law as the industry was “too powerful to go up against.”
Proposed ‘right to know’ laws are on hold, waiting upon the outcome from the San Francisco case.
This places a lot of pressure on the CTIA attorneys to win this time around in the US Appeals Court. If they lose…the “flood gates” will be opened for more cities and states to legislate consumer “right to know” laws. And, if that happens, industry executives will certainly be busy flying around the country from Hawaii to Maine lobbying, making strategic campaign contributions and desperately trying to convince other cities and states that they don’t have the right to demand the industry tells the truth to the public about cell phone radiation.
If the industry loses this appeal, the safety warnings which have been hidden in the fine print of every cell phone manual will become public knowledge that to use or carry a cell phone directly against the body is not safe. And, parents will find out that it was never safe to allow their children to sleep with their cell phones “on” under their pillows all night or to give toddlers an iPhone to play with to keep them quiet. When parents find out that the industry deceptively withheld this information from them simply to maximize their profits…..this is what the CTIA and the industry executives fear the most.
Stay tuned to find out whose rights will be upheld in the US Appeals Court ruling later this summer!