“A sensible question is why civilized governments do not seek to deprive terrorists of unfettered access to the Internet…Sadly, here in America, limiting access to the Internet would be illegal under the euphemistic term “network neutrality,” the two-year-old experiment in federal regulation of the Internet…To its supporters, network neutrality is a bulwark of civilization. But network neutrality is also a shield for terrorists who seek to destroy civilization.”
I’m just going to quote the first comment to this article on Ars Technica:
Did they fail high school physics? I get more radiation in total wattage and of a higher frequency from light bulbs by standing next to a lamp. Are you going to post a warning label on light bulbs next?
The biggest wireless industry trade group is suing the City of Berkeley, California to stop a requirement that cell phones come with radiation warnings.
The Berkeley City Council last month passed an ordinance requiring cell phone retailers to provide the following notice to all customers who buy or lease phones:
To assure safety, the Federal Government requires that cell phones meet radio frequency (RF) exposure guidelines. If you carry or use your phone in a pants or shirt pocket or tucked into a bra when the phone is ON and connected to a wireless network, you may exceed the federal guidelines for exposure to RF radiation. This potential risk is greater for children. Refer to the instructions in your phone or user manual for information about how to use your phone safely.
CTIA-The Wireless Association, which represents carriers and suppliers, sued in US District Court yesterday, saying the “required disclosure… impermissibly abridges CTIA’s members’ First Amendment rights,” that it is “preempted by federal law,” and that there is no scientific basis for the warning.
“The Federal Communications Commission (‘FCC’) implements a mandate from Congress to create a nationwide, uniform set of regulations for wireless communications devices,” CTIA wrote. “Pursuant to that mandate, the FCC—consulting with expert federal health and safety agencies and drawing from international standards-setting bodies—has carefully reviewed the scientific studies that have examined cell phones for possible adverse health effects, including health effects from the radio waves—a type of radiofrequency energy (‘RF energy’)—that cell phones emit in order to function. The FCC has determined, consistent with the overwhelming consensus of scientific authority, that ‘[t]here is no scientific evidence that proves that wireless phone usage can lead to cancer or a variety of other problems, including headaches, dizziness or memory loss.'”
The FCC’s standards are conservative, CTIA wrote, saying that the commission’s “exposure limits for RF energy in a general population setting ‘are set at a level on the order of 50 times below the level at which adverse biological effects have been observed in laboratory animals.'”
When contacted by Ars, a Berkeley spokesperson responded, “We don’t comment on pending litigation.”
San Francisco revoked a similar ordinance in 2013 after losing a court battle to CTIA. But Berkeley isn’t giving up. The San Francisco Chronicle reported yesterday:
Berkeley officials said they were confident the ordinance would be upheld. Councilman Max Anderson, the measure’s lead sponsor, said the warning language was taken directly from manufacturers’ statements in product manuals. Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig, helped to draft the ordinance and has agreed to defend it without charge.
“I believe Berkeley has a right to assure its residents know of the existing safety recommendations,” Lessig said by e-mail.
While Comcast’s attempted acquisition of Time Warner Cable may be dead in the water, information revealed during the company’s ugly but often entertaining merger sales pitch may come back to haunt it. When Comcast started selling regulators on the idea of the Time Warner Cable merger, you’ll recall it highlighted repeatedly how Comcast should be trusted because it had done such a bang up job adhering to the conditions placed on its acquisition of NBC Universal. Except when regulators tried to verify this M&A claim (which is already rare enough in telecom), they discovered that not only did Comcast write most of the conditions itself, it still somehow managed to repeatedly fail to adhere to them.
For example Comcast had to be fined $800 million by the FCC for failing to offer and clearly advertise a relatively paltry 5 Mbps, $50 per month broadband tier. Similarly, the company’s Internet Essentials program, which promised 5 Mbps, $10 broadband for low income communities and was a phenomenal PR boon for Comcast — at one point resulted in Philadelphia street protests for being hard to find, qualify, and sign up for. It was also revealed that Comcast ignored conditions intended to keep the company from hamstringing Internet video competitor Hulu, which it acquired as part of the NBC deal.
So yes, Comcast, you’re really great at adhering to merger conditions, just as long as nobody actually bothers to look at how well you adhere to merger conditions. Given how closely the FCC had looked at whether companies adhered to merger conditions in the past (as in: not at all), Comcast’s hubris here was understandable.