In France, an investigation has been launched into the activities of the American tech giant Apple, which has been linked to the “planned obsolescence” of the company’s smartphones – according to human rights activists and relevant authorities, such aging can be implemented by reducing the ability to repair electronics.
According to Paris prosecutors, investigations into possible deceptive business practices and planned aging have been ongoing since December 2022 after local association Halt Planned Obsolescence (HOP, Stop Planned Aging) filed a lawsuit against Apple. HOP hopes the investigation will help prove that the iPhone maker tied component serial numbers to smartphones, allowing it to limit repairs to unauthorized centers and ordinary citizens “Remotely interfering with a smartphone repaired with unlicensed components.” After replacing a defective display, Face ID no longer worked in the iPhone 13 and 13 Pro and only under pressure from the public and the media did Apple fix the defect with the release of iOS 15.2.
The association does not rule out that the company will continue to prevent “unauthorized” repairs, which the company has allowed in principle in Europe since December 2022. In particular, if you want to legally repair the device yourself, you have to pay a deposit of around 1,200 euros for a tool set weighing 36 kg and also pay large amounts for the rent. As a result, repairs are neither worthwhile technically nor economically.
The human rights organization asked Apple to guarantee the right to repair devices. As the broadcaster France 24 notes, Apple itself does not comment on the situation. HOP works with the organization DGCCRF, which reports to the French Ministry of Economy, and wants to use their help to penalize the connection of devices with original components and to achieve a number of other goals. For example, the association states that each additional year of use of the iPhone leads to a reduction in its carbon footprint, but in any case, protecting the right to repair is a priority, in full compliance with French and European standards.
It is known that Apple was at the center of the scandal back in 2017, when it was revealed that the company was deliberately slowing down smartphones with reduced battery life. As a result, the company not only had to admit the problem, but also release an update that fixes it. In addition, affected customers in France had to offer battery replacements at reduced prices and pay a fine of 25 million euros, among other things.
In the UK, Apple faces far worse sanctions. The lawsuit, which could result in a fine of at least 1.8 billion euros, was filed last year. However, the company is repeatedly caught deliberately slowing down its electronics. In the US, these were iPhone 6, 6 Plus, 6s, 6s Plus and iPhone SE (1st gen) with iOS 10.2.1 or later, and iPhone 7 and 7 Plus with iOS 11.2 or later. At first glance, the company managed to get $25 in compensation for each affected user in the US, but the total cost of the process cost the company $310-500 million.