An MP wants warning labels for mobile phones
Well, here’s something you might have missed! On January 19, Conservative MP Terence Young (of Oakville, Ontario) announced a bill (Private Member’s Bill C-648, to be precise) that will require big, hard-to-miss warnings about the potential dangers of mobile phones (and wireless devices) to be displayed on the packaging and displays of cell phones and wireless routers.
It’s the same idea as the impossible-to-ignore warnings found on the cartons of cigarettes. Only, the idea would be applied to devices that have become a big part of life for most of us.
It wouldn’t be a trivial bill either; if passed, anyone who’s guilty of violating Bill C-648 could pay up to $100,000 in fines. Per day.
Did that catch your attention? It really caught mine!
A bit more context
This is the second time that MP Young has introduced a bill requiring warnings to be affixed to consumer products. Last time, he pressed for tougher, clearer warnings on prescription drugs via Bill C-17; that bill passed and became law.
Now, we can see MP Young’s concern and logic in crafting that bill. He wanted to make sure that everyone who takes medicine really understood the difference between safe and unsafe doses. He's trying to encourage accountability.and promote transparency in the public at large. The question is, does the same logic apply here?
The thing is, the studies on cell phone use and human health impact aren’t conclusive yet. At present, the World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that humans experience no consistent adverse effects to cell phone exposure. That said, the WHO does admit that there’s a risk of cell phone radiation being carcinogenic, for one specific type of cancer. The key point though, is that they’re still doing the research on mobile phone impacts overall, and won’t have more definitive answers for at least one more year.
Basically, don’t panic yet, folks! Just be aware that there may be health risks involved, so keep on checking to see what the latest research says before jumping to huge conclusions!
The potential impact of Bill-C648 on your business
Now, no matter what the science on the matter says, there’s a chance that MP Young’s bill will pass. It’s already in discussion in Parliament, and, as long as Prime Minister Harper doesn’t call an early 2015 election, there may be enough time for the bill to go through all the necessary steps to go through a vote and become a law.
While that’s not certain, it does pay to understand what the bill means for us, in practical terms.
1. A change in consumer attitudes toward electronics and mobile devices
Anyone who’s paid attention to graphic cigarette labels have probably gotten at least a little repulsed, to say the least. Research shows that the impact of these labels is much greater, in fact. They’ve actually been correlated with reduction in smoking, and lead many consumers to sharing their new knowledge about the risks of smoking.
If we apply the results of those studies to mobile device warnings, then it’s a pretty safe bet that it will stunt our enthusiasm for wireless devices and other tech gadgets. That means something pretty big for businesses, since mobile phones and similar devices are now a big part of the day-to-day of business. If a sizable portion of today’s smartphone lovers start giving up the habit, it may reduce (or even reverse) the efficiency we’ve gained from being so mobile and connected.
2. Big headaches for cell phone makers and carriers
This is pretty obvious, but worth noting regardless. Remember how I said that it could cost $100,000 in fines per day to not properly label wireless devices and phones with huge warnings? It’s going to cost phone makers and carriers a lot to comply. To say nothing of the potential lost sales…
3, Changes in workplace configurations and practices
Some of you might remember a time when smoking was allowed everywhere. Now, many places don’t allow smoking at all. Here in Quebec, you have to smoke 9 meters away from the main door, if you’re going to smoke at all.
Now, applied to the present topic: Can you imagine zones in companies that bar mobile device usage? Or a lack of wireless service?
The bill as proposed (and as I understand it, with the caveat that I AM NOT A LAWYER) doesn’t ask for such requirements. However, it’s not a big jump to assume that once labels become necessary, wireless-free zones might also become mandatory too. Workplace transparency (and IT asset transparency in particular) will take on a new dimension, where wireless service is confined to distinct regions in the office only.
Final words for now
I have to admit that this could be nothing. After all, Bill C-648 isn’t law yet. However, to work smarter, we always have to plan ahead. For many of us, cell phones and mobile devices are a fact of worklife (because, they do, in fact, help us work smarter right now). Because of that, we’re going to have to pay careful attention to how MP Young’s bill plays out in Parliament.
In the meantime, there’s plenty of planning to do right now. Many of us have to secure BYOD as a part of managing our businesses, and we have to encourage accountability (in technology usage). Contact us at Cimpl to find out how to keep on top of your IT today!