The legal fallout over Apple slowing down old iPhones could produce a criminal court proceeding after a French organisation filed a criminal lawsuit.
Since it emerged that Apple slowed old iPhones to prevent them from malfunctioning due to poor battery performance, the company has faced a slew of lawsuits in the United States and Israel.
But the action by Halte à l’Obsolescence Programmée (HOP), whose name translates to Stop Planned Obsolescence, for the first time raises the possibility of criminal charges.
In a statement, the organisation claimed Apple’s actions violated a 2015 French law that prohibits “the practice of planned obsolescence, which is defined by the use of techniques by which the person responsible for the marketing of a product aims to deliberately reduce the duration to increase the replacement rate”.
“These practices are unacceptable and can not go unpunished. It is our mission to defend consumers and the environment against this waste organized by Apple,” HOP co-founder Laetitia Vasseur said.
The maximum potential sentence is two years in prison or a fine of 300,000 euros (£267,000), the organisation said. Prosecutors must still decide whether to pursue the case.
The complaint specifically names Apple France. A representative of the company did not immediately respond to The Independent’s request for comment.
In a statement released to the media last week, Apple said that its “goal is to deliver the best experience for customers, which includes overall performance and prolonging the life of their devices”. The company publicly apologised on Thursday and released a statement aiming to clarify what it called a “misunderstanding” about “some changes we're making”.
“First and foremost, we have never — and would never — do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades,” the statement said. “Our goal has always been to create products that our customers love, and making iPhones last as long as possible is an important part of that”.