New cellphone laws protect consumers
There is a lot of controversy over whether cellphones are actually dangerous to users. While the World Health Organization (WHO) considers them “possible carcinogens,” it also recognizes that more studying needs to be carried out on cellphone radiation before a definite link is established between mobile communication devices and cancer. Plus, readers would do well to remember that WHO’s list of possible carcinogens also includes coffee, an item which pretty much no one is up in arms about. The city of San Francisco appears restless on the question of cellphone radiation, unwilling to wait for any conclusive evidence to be drawn. Legislators passed a law this summer requiring cellphone providers to alert consumers to the existence of radiation and give them general information about what it is and how to reduce exposure. Of course, the phone companies themselves are not taking the news well. The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA) is filing a lawsuit against the new laws, arguing that is unnecessary, harmful, and infringes on the cellphone industry’s First Amendment rights. We say the CTIA has no reason to be so upset — other than to save their wallets, of course.
As we admitted above, there’s still no definite connection between cellphone radiation and cancer. It could be no more dangerous than the other background radiation we’re exposed to every single day. But San Francisco’s law is still justified in that it takes the “better to err on the side of caution” route. It doesn’t require cigarette-like warning signs on the side of cellphone boxes. All it calls for is the distribution of information to consumers, who deserve to be informed about their purchases in the first place. In fact, the law shouldn’t even have to intervene in this matter. Cellphone companies should have been giving their clients a heads-up all along, especially considering the fact that these companies are calling the new law unnecessary.
The CTIA should see this law as akin to the laws in New York City that require chain restaurants to post their calorie information on their menus so that customers know up front just what they’re getting into. The calorie counts are not warning signs of impending death — just full disclosure. San Francisco’s law is the same way. The customers have a right to know what they’re getting into, and that right doesn’t step on the First Amendment rights of the CTIA in any way.