Judge blocks most of SF cellphone warning law

Oct 28, 2011 By PAUL ELIAS , Associated Press

(AP) -- A federal judge on Thursday struck down most of a San Francisco ordinance that requires retailers to warn customers about cellphone radiation and its health effects.

U.S. William Alsup ruled that the required warning is misleading because it implies cellphones are dangerous and unregulated, and he ordered city officials to change the wording on the fact sheet that retailers are required to distribute.

The brochures must include a statement that all cellphones must comply with the Federal Communications Commission's safety limits regarding radiation emissions, the judge said.

"The overall impression left is that cell phones are dangerous and that they have somehow escaped the regulatory process," Alsup wrote. "That impression is untrue and misleading, for all of the cell phones sold in the United States must comply with safety limits set by the FCC."

An industry group called CTIA-The Wireless Association had sued the city after its Board of Supervisors passed the ordinance 10-1 last year.

The judge also blocked parts of the ordinance that require retailers to put up posters and affix warning stickers on cellphones. He said those items unconstitutionally compel retailers to broadcast the city's opinion of cellphones.

"All consumers who actually purchase a cell phone will receive the handout," Alsup wrote. "There is no reasonable cause for requiring retailers to convert their walls to for the municipal message."

Alsup put the entire ordinance on hold until Nov. 30 to give time for an appeal. He also said that if the city refuses to edit the brochures as ordered, then the entire ordinance will be tossed out.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera said he will appeal the judge's decision.

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