The “Right to Know” Ordinance: cellphone safety

Although “proof” on the dangers of cellphones may still be foggy, the city council of Berkley, California voted in 2015 to do something no other US city has done: warn people about their cellphones. The ordinance is a simple call for stores to provide the information already hidden in our phones. The measure is quite minimal, but still a step in the right direction. The law is called the “right to know” ordinance, based on the premise that people have a right to know about the existence of these all but buried warnings in their phones. People in Berkley are now provided with safety tips as soon as they purchase a phone.

Responsible cellphone use

Contrary to what some naysayers may believe, no one is talking about banning cellphones or regressing from modernity to the prehistoric era. There is simply a safe way to use radiation-emitting devices, and an unsafe way. Knowledge really is power when it comes to the world of cellphones. Ellie Marks blames cellphone radiation for her husband’s brain tumour, and has been a vocal supporter of Berkley’s legislation. Under the new legislation, buyers are now informed that that by holding a phone to the body, federal exposure limits are exceeded, and storage in pockets or bras is highly discouraged.

Resistance by the cellphone industry

Cellphone industry heads want the public store signage detailing cellphone risks removed, arguing they are alarmist. The fight is expected to reach the supreme court. Professor Lawrence Lessig of Harvard University is defending Berkley free of charge, and told NBC that cities “ought to at least be in the position to make sure that their own citizens know about the safety standards that are already in place” (NBC, 2015). Whether you believe there are possible health risks involved in using your cellphone or not, one thing is clear: understanding safety standards and taking preventative measures can do no harm, and just may make a world of difference in the long run.

Elle, J. (2015). “Berkeley Approves ‘Right to Know’ Cell Phone Radiation Warning Ordinance”. NBC. Retrieved from: https://www.nbcbayarea.com/news/local/Berkeley-Approves-Right-to-Know-Cell-Phone-Ordinance-303551751.html

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