UK market abuse lawsuit seeks up to $935 million from Apple for ‘secret throttling’ of iPhones – TechCrunch

A class action lawsuit is being filed against Apple in the UK for damages totaling £768 million (about $935 million).

The representative lawsuit was filed by consumer rights advocate Justin Guttman, citing competition law — with the lawsuit accusing the mobile phone maker of abusing its market dominance to engage in exploitative and unfair business practices when, according to the prosecution, it misleads iPhone users by submitting a request for a software update. Power management, first released in January 2017 in iOS 10.2.1, which throttled the performance of affected devices.

The lawsuit is being filed at the London Competition Court of Appeal on behalf of up to 25 million iPhone users in the UK who have used any of 10 different iPhone models, from the iPhone 6 to the iPhone X (including the iPhone SE).

The lawsuit, which is being funded by a litigation funder called Balance Legal Capital, is opt-out, not opt-in – meaning that affected UK consumers do not need to actively opt-in to be part of the representative lawsuit (although they will need to provide details in a later date if the lawsuit prevails and you wish to take its share of any damages – although damages can be up to about £30 per affected device).

A website with details about the lawsuit has been launched in https://theiphoneclaim.com/.

Apple has already faced lawsuits over claims of “throttling” iPhone performance in a number of Other European markets.

Back in 2020, it also settled a class action lawsuit back home that similarly accused it of deliberately slowing down the performance of older iPhones to encourage customers to buy newer models or new batteries — shelling out up to $500 million to make the litigation go. Far, albeit without accepting the error.

In the same yearFrance’s competition watchdog fined Apple $27 million for throttling old devices without informing users. In this case, Apple paid the fine and agreed to display a statement on its website about the penalty for a month.

while in 2018Italy’s consumer watchdog has hit Apple (and Samsung) with fewer financial penalties for imposing updates it found could slow down or disable devices.

The latest UK action on the throttling issue follows what Gutman described as an expert analysis conducted by technical experts instructed by his lawyer, Charles Lyndon Ltd., which he said shows that Apple’s tool was introduced with the aim of reducing demands on the battery, which had the effect of slowing the processor in the Peak performance up to 58% in the case of the iPhone 6s and 7.

The complainant further claims that Apple misleads consumers because information about the tool was not included in the iOS 10.2.1 update download description – meaning that users were not informed in advance of the harmful effect it might have on their devices.

Instead, users who fail to update to the latest iOS version are being told that they risk getting bugs and security flaws by missing major security updates. The lawsuit also alleges that some users were asked up to 70 times to install the update in notifications, while those who agreed to the update were unable to uninstall it, meaning they experienced any negative impact on the performance of their devices.

Apple later added a reference to the tool to the release notes on its website, but again, it will argue that it misled customers by not explaining that the tool would slow device performance — only stating that the update “improves power management during peak workloads to avoid shutdowns.” unexpected on the iPhone”.

It also apologized for its handling of the episode — and ran a battery replacement scheme through 2018 for all affected iPhone models — but Guttmann also accuses the company of failing to adequately publicize that software.

Commenting on this, he said in a statement: “Instead of doing the honorable and legal things by its customers and offering a replacement service, repair or compensation for free, Apple has instead misled people by hiding a tool in software updates that slowed their devices by up to 58%.”

“I am launching this case so that millions of iPhone users across the UK receive compensation for the damage done by Apple’s actions. If this case succeeds, I hope the dominant companies will re-evaluate their business models and refrain from this kind of behaviour.”

Asked why the lawsuit is now being filed, a spokesperson for the plaintiff said he has been working with his attorney on the claim “for some time.” They added, “It takes time to create a claim like this, including investigating the technical aspects of it, and we are now in a position to make it ready.”

“You are right that a number of similar class actions have been brought. Although none of the European actions have so far been successful, Apple has been fined by French and Italian regulators in connection with this behavior and has settled a number of class actions in the United States. Understands Mr. Guttmann that consumer law class action has been ratified in Canada and Spain; and that class action has been brought (but not yet ratified) in Belgium, Italy and Portugal.

Earlier this year A separate class action lawsuit has been launched in the UK against Meta, Facebook’s mother – which is also seeking to use competition law as a way to extract damages from the tech giant.

Representative measures focused on privacy law suffered a setback in the UK last year When the Supreme Court sided with Google — it ended a long-running lawsuit over a workaround, it applied to Apple’s Safari between 2011 and 2012 that bypassed iPhone users’ privacy settings.

In the Safari dissolution case, class action litigation failed as the court deemed it necessary to prove damage/loss on an individual basis, rather than agreeing that uniform compensation could be applied – so it will be interesting to see if litigation attorneys have had more success using litigation competition to extract representative damages for Big Tech’s harmful practices, either in court or through out-of-court settlements.