San Francisco is at it again. This liberal "progressive" city known best for the Golden Gate Bridge and sour dough bread leads the US in banning items and various aspects of public behaviour. A full list of headlines featuring those bans can be found here.
What is it this time, you ask? San Francisco has become the first city in the US to mandate the posting of radiation emission information beside every single phone that is for sale in every single mobile phone shop in San Francisco. Obviously, the mobile phone lobby is fuming over this mandate, but the local government "health experts" are thrilled, even though mobile phone radiation emission research has proved inconclusive over the years.
The lobby group for the mobile phone industry in the US said, "Information in the proper context is quite valuable, but this ordinance is extremely misleading and misguided. The mayor made it clear he thinks this will force manufacturers to design and produce safer phones, but according to the science out there, these devices already are safe and don't need to be made safer." The lobby group is now in court suing to stop the obligatory posters.
Confusion on why and how the legislation came into law is clear. The Federal Communication Commission already regulates mobile phones among other devices and so another level of regulation seems unnecessary – and it is. Is this the nanny state gone made? Yes, but this is San Francisco – the city that brought you a ban on plastic shopping bags and a ban on driving Segways on sidewalks and bike lanes.
In this age of localism in the UK, let this be a warning to all of us. We do want local issues to be decided by local communities, but we don’t want a local nanny state to creep in as well. The nanny state serves two purposes – to create more government waste in tax spending and to limit citizens from going about their lives and conducting business as they see fit. In the case of new law in San Francisco, we are going to see mobile phone shops required to spend more time and money on unnecessary administration and, in the end, possibly move to a neighbouring city so they don’t have to waste the time and energy on this unnecessary law. So be warned – no to the local nanny state.