Plan To Drop SF’s Cell Phone Right To Know Law Approved By Board Of Supervisors

San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors today agreed to accept a settlement with a cellphone industry group after a federal appeals court ruled against the city’s “Right to Know” law.

The ordinance, approved by the board in 2010 and amended in 2011, sought to require cellphone retailers to provide customers with information about alleged possible dangers associated with radiation from the devices and ways that users could reduce their exposure.

But before the legislation could go into effect, the group CTIA-The Wireless Association filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction.


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The group wrote in the suit that the ordinance affected their First Amendment right “not to have the government force them to endorse a controversial or false message,” noting that the Federal Communications Commission has established rules ensuring the safety of cellphones.

After an extended court battle, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in September 2012 sided with the cellphone group and ruled the legislation was invalid.

In the settlement approved by the Board of Supervisors today, the city agreed to drop any future attempts to amend the law or pursue further court appeals in exchange for not having to pay the cellphone group’s legal fees of up to $500,000.

The board approved the settlement by a 10-1 vote, with Supervisor John Avalos providing the lone dissenting vote.

Avalos said he thought the “ruling that was made was just way too extreme.”

Supervisor David Campos said he also opposed the 9th Circuit’s ruling but was reluctantly approving the settlement.

“From a legal standpoint, I just don’t know that we have any ability to alter the outcome,” Campos said.

“It’s a very tough situation, but the last thing I want to do is have the general fund give half a million dollars to lawyers in this case.”

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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