The US FCC has filed a brief siding with the CTIA wireless industry against the  historic Berkeley Cell Phone Right To Know Law.

The FCC contends that Berkeley is pre-empted from enacting a law requiring consumers being provided information at point of sale. In addition the FCC argues that ensuring consumers have the information is not necessary.

The FCC Brief  states, “The FCC has also determined that the information on its website and in cell phone user manuals about RF exposure is adequate to inform consumers of this issue without overwarning or creating the false impression that RF emissions from FCC-certified cell phones are unsafe. ”


“Under the FCC’s rules, a cell phone manufacturer is not permitted to sell cell phones in the United States until the FCC certifies that they comply with all applicable rules and regulations, including the FCC’s RF limits. To obtain this certification, the manufacturer must test its cell phones in accordance with FCC procedures and submit the test results to the Commission. If the test results demonstrate that the phones comply with the FCC’s RF limits, and the manufacturer further demonstrates that its phones comply with all other applicable rules and regulations, the Commission certifies the cell phones for sale in the United States. The Commission has found that RF emissions from FCC-certified cell phones pose no health risks.”

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“The Berkeley ordinance conflicts with the FCC’s determination that the information provided on its website and in cell phone user manuals is sufficient to inform consumers about the risk of RF exposure, and that additional notices risk “overwarning” and misleading consumers into believing that RF emissions from FCC-certified cell phones are unsafe. In addition, the notice mandated by Berkeley informs consumers that, when the phones are carried against the body, consumers may experience unsafe levels of RF exposure. That statement inaccurately describes the safety of cell phones and may inhibit the broad availability of safe wireless communications devices. For these reasons, the Berkeley ordinance conflicts with, and is preempted by, federal law.”


“The FCC has explained that the 0.5 centimeter distance from the body is appropriate because: (1) cell phones are “tested against the head without any separation distance”; (EHT notes this is a half truth because their is a spacer for the ear and the FCC allows much higher radiation levels into the ear than the head and body. Cell phones are not tested with the phone touching the head. They are tested “against the head” with the ear spacer in between) (2) testing is currently performed at maximum power, “under more extreme conditions than a user would normally encounter”; and (3) the “existing exposure limits are set with a large safety margin, well below the threshold for unacceptable rises in human tissue temperature.” 2019 RF Order ¶ 14. Taking these factors into account, the FCC has found it “unnecessary” to “require [RF] testing with a ‘zero’ spacing—against the body.” ”

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Read the FCC filed Brief