abc_gavin_bars.jpgOver a month ago our own Chris Roberts asked “With Gavin Gone, Will Supes Defend His Cell Phone Radiation Bill In Court?” Today’s Chron gives Chris his answer, saying “S.F. puts cell phone radiation law on hold.” Guess that’s a “no,” then.

When Gavin Newsom pushed his “Cell Phone Right to Know” bill to an eventual 10-1 vote by the Board of Supervisors (only Supervisor Sean Elsbernd, a Newsom political ally, voted against), the legislation compelling cell phone retailers to tell customers how much radiation their devices emit was expected to be implemented this February, then May 1, then June 15. There now, reports the Chron, is no proposed start date.

One of the reasons for this? A lawsuit filed in US District Court by wireless lobbying group CTIA arguing that the bill, which requires cell retailers to publish the “specific absorption rate” of each phone along with its price and other specifics, is a First Amendment violation.

CTIA also maintains that cell phones pose no health risks

But that’s not all they’re worried about, says the Chron: “Sources say it’s not just the lawsuit that’s giving the supervisors pause. It’s also questions about the accuracy of the radiation labels, which some say could actually lead shoppers to buy phones that emit more radiation than others.”

Current radiation labels are based on a cell phone’s Specific Absorption Rate, which CNET describes as “a measure of the amount of radio frequency (RF) energy absorbed by the body when using the handset. All cell phones emit RF energy and the SAR varies by handset model.”

Some mobile industry watchdogs say that SAR isn’t the best way to gauge the radiation hazards a phone may or may not present, as it measures radiation peaks, not the average amount a user might be exposed to.

Supervisor and Mayoral candidate John Avalos holds out hope that the bill can be revived in a more toothless form, telling the Chron that he hopes to propose changes to the law where “there will still be some information that’s going to be shared (with buyers of cell phones), but it’s going to be somewhat less,”

In its suit, the CTIA is seeking repeal of the bill as well as attorneys’ fees from San Francisco taxpayers. They have yet to comment on SF’s apparent retreat from the law.

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the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at

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