Berkeley passes cell phone safety ordinance

BERKELEY, Calif. (KTVU) -- The Berkeley City Council voted unanimously 9-0 Tuesday night to pass the cell phone "right to know" ordinance that supporters say is about protecting the public.

Advocates for the ordinance said most people don't know that cell phones already come with a warning about the potential dangers of cell phone us

It takes five steps before consumers can reach the warning contained in iPhones.

"My husband was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2008 out of the blue. He had a grand mal seizure," said Ellie Marks, who founded the California Brain Tumor Association.

She says her husband was a heavy cell phone user.

Marks said she started doing research and soon found data from various countries about the dangers of cell phone use.

"It should never be in a pocket, not in a bra and should not be directly against your skin," explained Marks.

The ordinance requires stores such as Berkeley's Complete Entertainment Exchange to give consumers a flyer, which would read in part "If you carry your phone in a pocket or tucked into clothing directly against your body when the phone is on and connected to a wireless network-you may be exposed to RF levels that exceed federal guidelines."

"I don't think it's necessary at the moment, just because we don't have conclusive evidence of it. Maybe if we had some scientific data sure. Not right now," said Dreama Wilson, manager of Complete Entertainment Exchange.

"We want you to know how whole families are destroyed by brain tumors," said Marks as she addressed the Berkeley City Council.

She was among many advocates who turned out for Tuesday night's meeting to support an ordinance similar to one passed by San Francisco in 2011 but never implemented.

The Cellular Telecommunications Industry Associaton legally challenged the measure, saying it violated its free speech rights.

On Tuesday, the wireless association sent a letter to the Berkeley City Council, which said in part, "Leading health and safety organizations have concluded that there are no known adverse health risks associated with wireless device use."

Advocates for the Berkeley ordinance say they are prepared for a legal fight.

They've already enlisted the help of Harvard Law School's Lawrence Lessig.

"This is not about telling people not to use cell phone. It's just saying here's the information you should know and make your own decision," said Lessig, a constitutional law expert.

The ordinance could go into effect in July.