As discussed in prior posts, the city of San Francisco has recently passed a law requiring all retailers of cell phones to post the SAR levels of each phone. The specific absorption rate, or SAR, is the amount of radiation absorbed by the body when the phone sends a signal to the network. In June, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors passed the "cell phone right to know" ordinance affecting all retailers within the city. On July 23, a cell phone industry trade group known as CTIA filed suit in U.S. District Court.
According to the Associated Press, the CTIA believes the law will mislead consumers into believing some phones are safer than others based on the SAR numbers. The suit also claims the city in stepping into an area of regulation reserved for the FCC. "Nobody should be suggesting to consumers that they ought to be shopping for phones based on a difference in SAR values," John Walls, vice president for public affairs at CTIA, told the AP. "There's no scientific basis to suggest, as the ordinance does, that two phones with different values have a safety distinction between them," as long as they're below the FCC's limit.
Outside of San Francisco, consumers have to go to the FCC website to find the SARs for each phone available in the U.S. The San Francisco law is the first of its kind to make that information available at the point of purchase. Under the law, larger chains will have to place SAR notices starting in February, while other stores will have until 2012.
In an attempt to hit the city where it hurts - in the wallet - the CTIA is looking for another venue for its annual trade show. It usually holds the show in the fall, but this year it plans to take its business to another city. "We thought it was a clear message from the mayor that we weren't wanted there," Walls said.