- Belgian regulator to rate iPhone 12 after French ban
- Apple says the iPhone 12 complies with global radiation regulations
- German regulator says France will lead Europe
- Italy says it is monitoring the situation, but no action yet
PARIS, Sept 14 (Reuters) – Belgium said on Thursday it was reviewing health risks associated with Apple’s iPhone 12, after France ordered a halt to sales for exceeding radiation exposure limits, raising the prospect of several European countries banning the model.
However, there appeared to be no immediate prospect of an EU-wide ban, as the European Commission will wait for the opinion of other EU countries before deciding on any action.
EU member states have three months to provide feedback, the French regulator announced on Wednesday. Some, like Italy, said they would take no action for now.
Apple opposes the French findings, saying that the iPhone 12 – now a relatively old model launched in 2020 – has been certified by several international organizations as complying with radiation standards.
Over the past two decades researchers have conducted numerous studies to assess the health risk of mobile phones. According to the World Health Organization, no adverse health effects from their use have been established.
Mathieu Michel, Belgium’s secretary of state for digitalisation, told Reuters the Belgian regulator was looking into the matter after the French actions.
“We immediately asked the IBPT (Belgian Institute for Postal Services and Telecommunications) for confirmation or at least an analysis, which is currently underway,” he said.
Michael also asked for a review of all Apple smartphones and devices made by others.
However, he stressed that European standards are very cautious and there are no immediate safety concerns.
“That’s why today it’s obviously crossed a threshold (according to the French regulator) that’s not acceptable, but in terms of health and safety, I don’t think there’s any reason to think we’re all going. Be the little green men.”
The iPhone 12 passed the radiation test conducted by the French company in 2021.
Germany’s network regulator BNetzA reiterated that the work in France could serve as a guide for Europe as a whole and would explore the issue for the German market if the process in France is sufficiently advanced.
The Dutch digital watchdog also said it was investigating the matter and would seek an explanation from the US company, while insisting there was “no serious security risk”.
Italy’s Industry Ministry, meanwhile, said it was monitoring the situation but took no action for now.
Portugal’s telecoms regulator, ANACOM, said it was monitoring and analyzing the developments in coordination with France, and expected one of two possible outcomes: Apple to remedy the situation or, failing that, Brussels to “take proportionate measures” for EU member states.
Britain, which met radiation safety standards when the iPhone 12 was released, has not announced any plans following France’s decision.
Industry experts said there were no safety risks because regulatory limits based on the risk of burns or heating from the phone’s radiation were set far below where scientists found evidence of harm.
Apple’s revenue in Europe was about $95 billion last year, making it its second-largest region behind the United States. Some estimates suggest that more than 50 million iPhones were sold in Europe last year.
Apple, which doesn’t break out its sales by country or model, launched the iPhone 15 on Tuesday, and the three-year-old iPhone 12 is no longer available to buy online from Apple in France and other European countries. However, it can be purchased from third parties, including Amazon France.
“Limiting iPhone 12 sales shouldn’t hurt iPhone that much. We’d be more concerned if the new models were involved,” said DA Davidson analyst Tom Forte.
Forte said Apple could face bigger problems elsewhere, such as potential bans on iPhones in China and new data regulations in Europe.
Additional reporting by Foo Yun Chee, Hakan Ersen, Giuseppe Fonte, Silvia Aloisi, Supantha Mukherjee, Patricia Rua; by Dasilo Hummel and Ingrid Melander; Editing by Mark Potter and Alexander Smith
Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Dassilo is a trained lawyer who first joined Reuters in Berlin and then rejoined in Paris. He covers French politics and business, EU institutions and NATO.