A French activist group says it has filed a complaint against Apple over revelations that the tech giant remotely slowed the performance of older iPhone models. French law since 2015 has made planned obsolescence—deliberately reducing the useful life of products—a crime.
Stop Planned Obsolescence (HOP in French) announced the filing yesterday. Apple (AAPL) already faces several lawsuits in the U.S., after users found that updates to models including the iPhone 6 and iPhone 7 slowed the phones’ performance.
Apple has acknowledged the practice, arguing that what it called “smoothing” was necessary to protect the components of older phones and prevent unexpected shutdowns as their batteries aged.
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Apple has also been sued in Israel over the issue. But, as HOP points out, France has uniquely strong laws criminalizing similar practices. Implemented in 2015, the criminalization of planned obsolescence is intended to push for longer-lasting appliances and reduced waste.
HOP has previously filed complaints against printer makers HP, Canon, Epson, and Brother, claiming they programmed their printers to see printer cartridges as empty even with 20% of their ink remaining. That case is still under investigation, but executives with the companies face possible jail time if convicted under French law. According to French news site The Local, punishment in such cases can also include serious financial penalties.
Jurisdiction may be an issue if and when a case against Apple proceeds. According to compliance specialists SGS, the French law only applies to French manufacturers, but only one small iPhone component is reportedly manufactured in France.