Big Telecom Wins Again — Scientists Respond to Federal Judge Ruling Against Berkeley’s Cell Phone “Right to Know” Law

By B.N. Frank

The “fine print warnings” in mobile phone manuals (cell phones and cordless landlines) advise users to NOT hold them directly next to the body (see 1, 2, 3, 4). The same warnings exist in the “fine print” in manuals for all wireless devices. Many people still don’t know this. Even telecom ads promote cell phone use that they won’t guarantee is safe.

Last summer, a class action lawsuit was filed regarding several smartphone models because they exceed “safe” U.S. RadioFrequency (RF) Radiation levels. More phones have been cited as exceeding “safe levels” since then (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5).

The hard-won Berkeley cell phone “Right to Know” ordinance required cell phone retailers to warn customers about radiation. Seems reasonable, right? Unfortunately, a federal judge doesn’t think so.

From Environmental Health Trust:

A federal judge ruled in favor of the wireless industry to halt the city of Berkeley’s cell phone right to know law requiring retailers to warn customers about cellphone radiation. For five years The CTIA- the wireless industry’s powerful lobby group has argued that Berkeley law violates their First Amendment rights because it compels them to tell consumers to never carry or use a cell phone directly against the body or risk exposure to RF radiation that may exceed the federal safety guidelines. Instead of making this information readily available to consumers as current FCC regulations require, phone manufacturers deceptively hide this consumer safety warning in legal fine print deep within menus inside the phone

The decision By judge Chen, terms the Berkeley law “overwarning” noting that the FCC must balance competing objectives of ensuring public health and safety and promoting the development and growth of the telecommunications network and related services.

Berkeley’s ordinance, first proposed in 2010 and passed in 2015, requires retailers to inform consumers that cell phones emit radiation that can exceed radiation limits when phones are close to the body. Since the Ordinance went into effect in 2016, it has survived multiple court challenges by the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA), which claimed the Ordinance violates free-speech rights. In August, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court panel upheld the Ordinance by concluding that the public health issues at hand were “substantial” and that the “text of the Berkeley notice was literally correct.” The City of Berkeley has long been represented pro bono by Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig.

The Berkeley Cell Phone Right To Know Ordinance requires retailers post a notice with the following text.

The City of Berkeley requires that you be provided the following notice: To assure safety, the Federal Government requires that cell phones meet radiofrequency (RF) exposure guidelines. If you carry or use your phone in a pants or shirt pocket or tucked into a bra when the phone is ON and connected to a wireless network, you may exceed the federal guidelines for exposure to RF radiation. Refer to the instructions in your phone or user manual for information about how to use your phone safely.

In response to this ruling, Devra Davis, PhD, MPH, President of Environmental Health Trust (EHT), issued the following statement:

With this ruling denying the right to know about cell phone radiation, the court has tipped the scales in favor of expanding telecommunications over public health. Democracy rests on an informed public that freely consents to be governed. We cannot consent to what we do not know. The right to know is essential to all citizens. And the duty to warn about potential hazards is an obligation of any company. Wherever the right to know and the duty to warn are not followed democracy itself is endangered.

Environmental Health Trust maintains a database of worldwide protective policy that shows over twenty countries already inform consumers why and how to reduce cell phone radiation exposure to the brain. Belgium, France and French Polynesia have banned the sale of cell phones for children. The Phonegate Alerte Association has launched an educational campaign after they revealed the vast majority of cell phones tested in body contact positions have radiation measurements that far exceed allowable limits for radiation.

“Our lawsuit against the FCC is aimed directly at the heart of FCC’s deception,” stated Theodora Scarato, Executive Director of Environmental Health Trust. “The court based their decision against Berkeley on the December 2019 action by the FCC whereby the FCC refused to update their 1996 cell phone radiation limits. FCC violated numerous laws as we lay out in our joint brief. The American people should be outraged that they are being kept in the dark.”

“The FCC recently issued a public statement to the District Court that cell phones are safe, even if carried and used against the body while exceeding the FCC’s own federal safety exposure guidelines. However, the CTIA Wireless Association failed to mention to the Court that the FCC’s regulation requiring that phone manufacturers warn consumers to never carry and use a phone directly against the body – the legal justification for the 9th Circuit’s original ruling that Berkeley’s Cell Phone “Right to Know” ordinance was legal – remains unchanged. I am certain the City of Berkeley will appeal this ruling as it was obviously based upon a deceptive legal maneuver by the CTIA Wireless Association designed to confuse the court” stated Cindy Franklin, Consumers for Safe Cell Phones – also a petitioner in the EHT et al v. FCC case. . FCC case.

Hundreds of scientists are calling for action to reduce public exposure, to inform the public about cell phone radiation and to halt 5G.

“Radiofrequency is an established carcinogen. Cell phones held close to the head will substantially increase the risk of a type of brain cancer—glioblastoma,” stated Dr. Anthony B. Miller, Professor Emeritus at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto and former Director of the Epidemiology Unit of the National Cancer Institute of Canada.

“Radiofrequency radiation should be regarded as a human carcinogen causing glioma,” stated Lennart Hardell MD, an advisor to the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, who has published several studies finding associations between cancer and people who use cell phones regularly. He referred to one of his published research reviews concluding that radiofrequency is a carcinogen.

The Court decision referenced the FDA’s review of cell phone radiation despite the fact that numerous experts in the field of bioelectromagnetics are calling for the FDA to retract their recently released report on cell phone radiation and cancer due to “numerous scientific errors.” “By dismissing scientific evidence of adverse effects and downplaying the need for individuals to take precautionary measures when using cell phones, the FDA review does not comport with the Agency’s mission of protecting and promoting public health. Contrary to what the report and FDA website assert, there is no “scientific consensus” that cell phone radiation and 5G are safe as evidenced by the official statements of hundreds of scientists and medical organizations.” Experts writing to the FDA include include Beatrice Golumb, MD PhD, Professor of Medicine, University of California, San Diego, Hillel Baldwin, MD, Fellow American Association of Neurological Surgeons, Ronald Melnick PhD, former National Institutes of Health Scientist, David Carpenter MD, former Dean of Public Health at Albany, Dr. Anthony Miller, Professor Emeritus of University of Toronto and World Health Organization Senior Advisor, Samuel Milham MD, former Head of the Chronic Disease Epidemiology Section, Washington State Department of Health and Dr. Devra Davis, President of Environmental Health Trust and Fellow American College of Epidemiology and Prof. Tom Butler, University College, Cork, Ireland. Read full statements by these scientists at Environmental Health Trust.

“I find it shocking that the FDA would casually dismiss the carcinogenicity findings from the National Toxicology Program (NTP) studies on cell phone radiation in experimental animals, when it was the FDA that requested those studies in the first place ‘to provide the basis to assess the risk to human health,’ and when an expert peer-review panel carefully reviewed the design and conduct of those studies and then concluded that the results provided “clear evidence of carcinogenic activity,” stated Ronald Melnick PhD who led the design of the $30M NTP study. Melnick sent a letter to the FDA documenting the scientific inaccuracies in their review.

More at Courthouse News: Federal Judge Rules Against Berkeley’s Cellphone Right to Know Law
Court Documents

9/18/2020 Order on Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings CTIA – The Wireless Ass’n v. City of Berkeley (9th Cir. 2019)

6/22/20 FCC Statement of Interest – CTIA v. Berkeley

Even though the The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is supposed to protect Americans by regulating the telecom industry, they didn’t support this law either. Of course, the FCC refuses to update 24-year-old federal RF radiation exposure guidelines despite research proving harm. Lawsuits have also been filed against the agency for NOT protecting the public from unsafe levels of radiation as well as 5G deployment on land (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) and in space. That’s why they have been identified as a corrupt and “captured agency.”

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