On SF Supervisors Agenda May 7: Settling Wireless Industry Lawsuit, Rescinding Cell Phone Right to Know Law


SFCellPhonePosterThe San Francisco Board of Supervisors is scheduled to vote at its Tuesday, May 7 meeting on invalidating the municipality’s pioneering cell phone right-to-know ordinance as part of the settlement of a lawsuit filed by the wireless industry’s lobbying powerhouse CTIA (Consent Agenda Item 8). The settlement includes a waiver of CTIA’s right to seek compensation for its attorneys’ fees.

The cell phone right-to-know law would require cell phone retailers in the City to post information on how consumers may reduce exposures to cell phone radiation by simple measures such as wearing a wired headset.

After an April 18 closed session, the Board of Supervisors Rules Committee voted unanimously to recommend that the full Board agree to settle the lawsuit and effectively kill the cell phone right-to-know law. According to wireless safety advocates in San Francisco, the City Attorney informed the Rules Committee that the potential savings to the City, if and only if the City loses the lawsuit, amount to the “upper six figures.” The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld an injunction against the law’s enforcement in fall 2012 – documents related to the litigation are on a U.S. Chamber of Commerce litigation watch webpage.

In May 2011, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified cell phone radiation as a 2B possible human carcinogen based upon an increased risk of brain tumors associated with cell phone use; and the Federal Communications Commission just issued a Notice of Inquiry into existing safety standards and testing procedures for cell phone radiation in the face of the unprecedented use of wireless devices by children. Several other countries are adopting precautionary measures and issuing warnings.