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CTIA claims SF phone radiation law unconstitutional

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Cellular trade body The CTIA is challenging a San Francisco ordinance that requires radiation labels on every mobile phone sold, claiming that such a rule breaches the US constitution.

The ordinance, passed by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in June, requires buyers to be informed "at the point of sale" about the radiative properties of different mobile phones. The CTIA reckons that requirement undermines the FCC's (national) rulings and is thus unconstitutional – states can't go around overruling federal bodies.

"San Francisco’s attempt to regulate the sale of wireless handsets improperly intrudes upon the FCC’s exclusive and comprehensive regulation of the safety of wireless handsets."

The FCC lists the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) of different phone models on its own site, and the CTIA (which represents the US cellular industry) points out that many phones include the same information in the manual or accompanying documentation, but putting it at the point of sale will over-emphasise the relevance of an emotive figure. Not to mention that requiring such a thing would be illegal:

"The ordinance is thus not only scientifically unsupported, it violates the Supremacy Clause in Article VI of the United States Constitution and must be stricken."

So... having argued that the ordinance was insensible, and threatened to take it's business out of San Francisco, the industry is now trying a legal challenge to get the ordinance removed.

Which makes quite a lot of sense – those who believe they are being irradiated by their mobile phones aren't going to be convinced otherwise by logic, and the CTIA's annual show isn't that important to the San Francisco economy (the threat was only to relocate within California anyway), but a legal challenge on constitutional grounds is less emotive and it will be interesting to see how much money San Francisco is prepared to pay defending its ideals. ®

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