U.S. Agencies Now Probing Apple Over Slowing Older iPhones [Update: Apple Responds]

Apple’s decision to slow down older iPhones, which was implemented in a software update in a version of iOS 10 in 2016, has led to lawsuits against the company, as well as government agency probes from all across the globe.

And while the United States Commerce Committee Chairman has already weighed in, Bloomberg is reporting today that Apple is now being investigated by two different federal agencies in the United States: The Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission.

According to unnamed sources speaking to the publication, both of these agencies have requested Apple hand over specific information regarding this decision. The goal is to eventually determine whether or not if Apple violated securities laws over its disclosure of the aforementioned software update.

The probe is private, however, and still in its very early stages:

“The U.S. Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating whether Apple Inc. violated securities laws concerning its disclosures about a software update that slowed older iPhone models, according to people familiar with the matter.

The government has requested information from the company, according to the people, who asked not to be named because the probe is private. The inquiry is in early stages, they cautioned, and it’s too soon to conclude any enforcement will follow.”

For its part, Apple did admit that it is slowing down older iPhones, all in an effort to help keep the battery running longer and to stop random shutdowns. The company also launched a $29 battery replacement program for 2018, and replacing an old battery in an old iPhone can fix the issue. Apple is also going to include a feature in iOS 11.3 that will allow customers to turn off the built-in throttling feature.

Our Take

This continues to be one of the worst decisions Apple has made to date. This is a secretive company, which is in itself not a secret, but there are some parts of the equation that need to be public knowledge. Choosing to slow down customers’ phones, even for a good reason, is one of those things that needs to be out in the open right out of the gate.

Of course, Tim Cook says people just weren’t paying attention when it rolled out that feature, which is an interesting way to handle what has become an international incident for the company, and one that is likely not going away anytime soon.

Update: Apple has confirmed in a statement that it has received questions from some government agencies and is responding to them.

We have received questions from some government agencies and we are responding to them.

[via Bloomberg]