Discourse and policy making on consumer protection in the areas of mobile telecommunication and tanning

Authors

  • Christoph Schweikardt RWTH Aachen University
  • Dominik Gross Institute for History, Theory and Ethics in Medicine University Hospital Aachen RWTH Aachen University
  • Michael Rosentreter Universitätsklinikum Aachen AÖR

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/cam.v9i1.59

Keywords:

health communication, health policy, mobile telecommunication, tanning

Abstract

Perceived health risks from electromagnetic fields in mobile telecommunication and from UV radiation in tanning have become regulation issues in Germany during the last decade. Health risk messages from government expert bodies and the main stakeholders in these areas as well as subsequent consumer protection policy making are investigated. Publications and websites of government expert bodies and the main stakeholders as well as debates in Federal Parliament were analysed to compare argumentation patterns and parliamentary decision-making processes. In both areas, the public received competing health risk messages from the industries and their critics. As a government expert body, the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) held the view that alleged health risks from electromagnetic telecommunication were not proven, and propagated the precautionary principle. This opinion did not endanger the agreement of 2001 between the government and mobile telecommunication operators. After the failure to obtain voluntary commitment from the tanning industry, by contrast, the BfS recommended stricter consumer protection legislation, which was subsequently implemented. The BfS was in a key position to demand the prerogative of interpretation concerning mutually excluding health risk messages and to provide the argumentation which led the way to non-ionic radiation health protection measures.

Author Biographies

Christoph Schweikardt, RWTH Aachen University

Christoph Schweikardt obtained a doctorate (Dr. med.) at Gießen University in 1996. In 1997 he graduated as Master of Arts in History at Leiden University. In 2006 he obtained the Qualification as University Lecturer (Habilitation) in Medical History, Theory and Ethics. During 2009-2010 he worked in the project ‘Humic’, which investigates acceptance of complex technical systems, using the example of mobile telecommunication.

Dominik Gross, Institute for History, Theory and Ethics in Medicine University Hospital Aachen RWTH Aachen University

Dominik Gross obtained doctorates in dentistry (1991), history (1993) and medicine (2001). In 1998 he obtained the Qualification as University Lecturer (Habilitation) in Medical History, Theory and Ethics. In 2005 he was appointed Chair for History, Theory and Ethics in Medicine at RWTH Aachen University and became the Director of the Institute of History, Theory and Ethics in Medicine. In the ‘Humic’ project he serves as one of the project leaders.

Michael Rosentreter, Universitätsklinikum Aachen AÖR

Michael Rosentreter studied sociology, psychology and history at the Universities of Cologne and Utrecht (MA). Focused on the medical aspects of these subjects and empirical methods, he has been working in various health projects as a research fellow since 2006, including at the Scientific Institute of Physicians in Germany (WIAD). Among his tasks at the Institute of History, Theory and Ethics in Medicine at RWTH Aachen University is methodological consultation in various projects including the Humic project.

Published

2013-02-19

How to Cite

Schweikardt, C., Gross, D., & Rosentreter, M. (2013). Discourse and policy making on consumer protection in the areas of mobile telecommunication and tanning. Communication and Medicine, 9(1), 59–70. https://doi.org/10.1558/cam.v9i1.59

Issue

Section

Articles