In new rules published today, the FCC has responded to guidelines published by the Government Accounting Office last year asking that it review its policies on RF testing — the core element of FCC hardware certification that helps ensure devices don't emit too much radiation and are generally safe to use. The FCC isn't changing the amount of radiation permitted by SAR testing — the procedure that measures how much radiation is actually absorbed by the human body — but it is making a key change: the outer ear is now identified as an "extremity," which means it can absorb considerably more radiation without running afoul of FCC guidelines.

No one really knows what RF radiation does to us

The precise effects of RF radiation on humans has never been decisively determined, and it's become a far bigger issue with the commoditization of cellphones (and the change in their usage patterns) in the last decade. To that end, while the FCC is keeping its absorption limits in place, it's basically putting out an appeal to the scientific community for comments and research that might help it make a more informed decision — of course, it's been using similar language in rulings since the 1970s, so there's no guarantee the limits will change any time soon.