An open letter to Apple Inc.
Mr. Tim Cook
CEO, Apple Inc.
1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino, CA 95014
October 15, 2014
On behalf of concerned parents, I’m writing to ask for your help. First, though, I’d like to acknowledge your company’s tremendous success.
You run the most culturally powerful company of all time
Adults love them: “I’m waiting to see what Apple will make me buy next.”
Kids love them: “Mom, just get me something with an Apple on it.”
You run a tight ship. You generate more sales than Google, Amazon, and Facebook combined and your iPhone revenue surpasses Microsoft’s entire business. You’re “wildly profitable” (fiscal 3Q14 results). As the most valuable company in the world, you have unparalleled resources and reach. You’ve amassed 800 million iTunes accounts (with accompanying e-mail and credit card information) and hold over $150 billion in cash.
It’s been an impressive run. Congratulations.
With success and leadership comes responsibility.
Kids are using your devices, a lot
Three-quarters of U.S. children have access to a mobile device. Most of them are Apple-branded. Forty percent of kids use iPads before they can speak. This data from Common Sense Media Research is over a year old. Babies try to swipe TV screens. iPads dominate in schools (95% of the educational market).
Children use these devices on the go and they are also spending massive amounts of time on them at home and at school. They spend 7.5 hours/day on electronics (2009 data). Kids are increasingly living in mobile-only households that are ditching wired connections and landlines for convenience and economy.
People require WiFi or 3G/4G network access to operate your devices. WiFi penetration is growing rapidly, in our homes, offices, schools, airplanes, airports, and that perfect hot spot your kids love to grab while in the car waiting for the light to turn green.
Cupertino, we have a problem: WiFi & kids
RADIATION IS HARMFUL
Especially to children.
OK, not all radiation is bad. Scientists (even NASA) and others investigate natural and man-made frequencies and the potential applications for grounding, healing, and protection (look up “earthing” and “Schumann Resonance“). Good radiation reduces blood viscosity and enhances other physiologic processes.
But that’s not what’s going on here. Most radiation is deeply concerning.
THE DANGERS ARE DOCUMENTED AND REAL
There are thousands of peer-reviewed scientific studies (see Bioinitiative, Electrosmog Bibliographies) that link the impacts of communication-frequency radiation to serious health problems including cancer, neurological disease, immune dysfunction, disruption of the blood-brain-barrier, DNA damage, infertility, and statistically significant neurological and cognitive disorders such as headaches, dizziness, tremors, decreased memory and attention, autonomic nervous system dysfunction, decreased reaction times, sleep disturbances, and visual disruptions.
CHILDREN ARE AT GREATER RISK
“Radiation exposures are higher for children than adults because children have thinner skulls, and their brains have higher water and higher ion (charged particle) content…these three factors enhance radiation penetration.” – Pediatr Nurs. 2013;39(2):65-70
“When electrical properties are considered, a child’s head’s absorption can be over two times greater, and absorption of the skull’s bone marrow can be ten times greater than adults. Therefore, a new certification process is needed that incorporates different modes of use, head sizes, and tissue properties.” Electromagn Biol Med. 2012 Mar;31(1):34-51
POLICIES ARE INADEQUATE TO PROTECT THE PUBLIC HEALTH
“Based on this review… as well as [those in] the… recent Bioinitiative Report… it must be concluded that the existing public safety limits are inadequate to protect public health, and that new public safety limits, as well as limits on further deployment of untested technologies, are warranted.” – Pathophysiology. 2009:16(2-3):157-177
IPADs SPIKE 900 BLASTS OF RF RADIATION PER HOUR
An iPad has five operational antennae. Unless these antennas are individually disabled, they will continually emit bursts of high frequency radiation (GHz) every four seconds or approximately 900 spikes an hour. This radiation is unnatural and jarring. The human body’s frequency is about 7.83Hz while WiFi frequencies are 2,400,000,000 to 5,000,000,000 Hz. A child holding onto a WiFi-activated iPad will absorb significant amounts of microwave radiation into her hands, lap, and face, even when there is no active uploading or downloading activity occurring.
Video #1: WiFi ON and connected to internet. We hear rapid pulsing from the router emitting beacon signals and irregular spikes from the iPad:
Video #2: WiFi ON and not connected to internet. We hear jarring spikes solely from the iPad.
Children are already more vulnerable; parents should know radiation exposure is cumulative over a lifetime. This isn’t news to Apple. The iPad user guide advises that “iPad contains components and radios that emit electromagnetic fields” and you direct customers to the Legal area of your site for “steps you can take to minimize exposure.” [p147]
ADDICTION IS A REAL PROBLEM
People joke about iPad addiction but it’s no laughing matter. Children have great difficulty self-regulating usage and more infants lack key motor skills due to an obsessive iPad “habit.” Nearly all teens are online (95%) and own cell phones (78%). They consume online media voraciously. And it’s not just a kid problem. Internet addiction is being considered for inclusion in the next Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM-V).
You surely know that the vast majority of people do not restrict their iPad and iPhone usage to minimize exposure. Like all large consumer products companies, Apple conducts extensive market research to understand how your products are used by your different target markets so you can deliver improved features and functionality.
4G LTE POSES EVEN GREATER HEALTH RISKS
4G LTE is the newest wireless communications standard for mobile devices that’s up to 10x faster than 3G networks. Apple is designing amped up products with multiple antennae to benefit from 4G’s full bandwidth power. Are they safe? The first study on LTE radio frequency by peer-reviewed Clinical Neurophysiology shows that activity on both sides of the brain is affected by 30 minutes of exposure to LTE cellphone radiation. 4G appears to intensify health risks.
Apple has an ethical responsibility to its customers
To date, you’ve sold over 500 million iPhones and 170 million iPads. It’s not a stretch to say that Apple products are a leading source of radio frequency electromagnetic radiation exposure in homes and schools today. Apple is reaping billions of dollars in profits from the sale of products that are putting our children (and us all) at risk.
I’m not saying that you’re breaking any laws. Nor do I believe that that Apple is the only player in this health equation. But I will suggest that Apple is uniquely positioned to be the most important player.
Apple is admired.
Apple is influential.
Apple has exceptionally deep pockets.
Apple is arguably the most culturally influential company in the world.
You have the resources and clout to make a difference. People respect your brand. And you have an ethical responsibility to your customers. Apple has an opportunity to change the world yet again for the better.
Let’s acknowledge the obvious. It’s better for Apple to downplay the dangers of communication-frequency radiation. But the truth never stays hidden forever. As with other environmental hazards, awareness grows and the public will demand changes. There’s usually high visibility collateral damage and costly, brand-damaging litigation. The lawsuits are already underway.
Some analysts say that Apple is becoming more corporate and less inspiring. We’re reading stories about corporate greed that don’t sit well with many. You can keep cranking out devices, like Bigweld Corporation in the animated sci fi movie Robots, or you can return to your roots and reconnect with your customers in a way that honors the sacred contract with those who trust you to do right by them.
What are some things Apple can do?
Please assert your rightful leadership role and take this issue seriously.
DON’T BE LIKE MONSANTO… PROMOTE LABELING
Remember what happened when the city of San Francisco attempted to require retailers to display radiation exposure for each type of device? Your trade association, the CTIA, slapped SF with a lawsuit and got the cellphone radiation warning law killed.
That’s an awful lot like Monsanto trying to kill GMO-labeling. Don’t go there. Monsanto is one of the most reviled corporations on the planet. When more research comes out and the evidence base undeniably matches up with the growing realization that our beloved devices are harming us, it will gravely taint your brand and your legacy.
STOP CHEATING… TEST DEVICES THE WAY THEY’RE USED!
And tell the U.S. government to grow up and do its job properly.
The FCC oversees manufacturers’ testing to ensure safe radiation levels before cell phones can be sold. This federal agency allows manufacturers to “cheat” on this test by holding cell phones up to 1 inch away from the testing device. Radiation levels thus appear much lower, enabling manufacturers to pass the test. And even so, iPhone 6 Plus is a mere .01 under the FCC’s legal limit of 1.6 watts per kilogram.
This isn’t right and it’s beneath your brand. Make safer devices and test them in the manner in which they are used – pressed on the ear, directly against the body in pockets, and tucked into waistbands and bras.
SAY YES TO THE RADIATION APP
We know that Steve Jobs rejected the Tawkon radiation exposure app that measures smartphone radiation exposure. But approve it anyway or something like it. I’d like to think that Jobs would’ve changed his mind had he survived the cancer that killed him. Regardless, it’s the right thing to do.
PROMOTE INDEPENDENT SAFETY RESEARCH
Support the excellent work done by the BioInitiative Working Group. Contribute to safety research you don’t control and make clear that your funding isn’t contingent upon the results. Epidemiologist Devra Davis, PhD recommends a national survey of radio frequency radiation exposure and the monitoring of heavy cell phone users by granting qualified researchers access to cell phone billing records.
MAKE SAFER PRODUCTS
- Devote a chunk of your prodigious R&D budget to the next generation of safer devices. We think we want thinner and faster, but meet the need that most of us don’t yet know we have. Make safety job #1.
- Add unequivocal warning labels to your products and educational information on your site. Display the SAR (specific absorption rate) of each device.
- Make it easy to turn antennae off and keep them off. Most people do not know, for example, that iPad antennae can be re-enabled while remaining in airplane mode.
- Allow users to place calls and use features without 3G/4G when they’re not accessing the internet.
- Package your phones with specially-designed, non-Bluetooth earpieces and highlight how to use the built-in speakerphone feature.
- Offer Ethernet adapters for your devices. Please?
ADVERTISE AND SELL RESPONSIBLY
You recently joined the club of $1+ billion advertisers. Please advertise responsibly. Don’t target children and discourage the use of wireless devices in schools. The World Health Organization and the Council of Europe are in agreement. The French government implemented a cell phone ban in primary schools; students under 14 are not permitted to have (or use) a mobile phone in school.
Train your salesforce to discuss with parents and educators the product safety features, overuse risks, and proactive ways to reduce exposure. Teach users where to place routers, how to deactivate the sources of radiation when not needed, and encourage wired connections.
Be great and surprise us
I matriculated at Stanford University one year after you introduced the Macintosh. Apple embodied a renegade spirit that thumbed its nose at convention and thrilled us all. We were cheering for you. In his Commencement Speech to Stanford’s Class of 2005, Steve Jobs spoke of the “lightness of being a beginner again,” which freed him to be creative. It’s time to reinvent your company. Our leaders in the next generation, including a future Apple CEO, are kids today. Help to keep them and all children safe.
We want to cheer for Apple again.
Louise Kuo Habakus
Author’s note: Parents know we are on the front lines when it comes to protecting our children. My second post about RFR — Parents: Should You Nix The WiFi? — offers recommendations and resources.
Louise Kuo Habakus heads Fearless Parent. There’s a new kind of parenting and it’s proactive, networked, evidence-based, and informed by a savvy understanding of the way the world works. Louise is joined by a growing community of clinicians, researchers, lawyers, advocates, radio hosts, and parents who are connecting the dots. Learn more about us at FearlessParent.org.