Apple agreed to pay $ 113 million to 34 states and the District of Columbia to resolve allegations that it violated consumer protection laws when it systematically downplayed widespread iPhone battery problems in 2016. This is in addition to the 500 million that the company it has already paid consumers during the issued earlier this year and numerous other fines around the world.
The problem, as we’ve reported over the years, was that a new version of iOS was causing older (but not-so-old) iPhones to shut down unexpectedly, and that an update that ‘fixed’ this problem was surreptitiously speeding up the performance of those devices. .
Conspiracy minded people, who we now know to be quite numerous, suspected that this was a deliberate performance degradation to spur the purchase of a new phone. This was not the case, but Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who led the multi-state investigation, showed that Apple was quite aware of the scale of the problem and the shortcomings of its solution.
Brnovich and his AG colleagues alleged that Apple violated several consumer protection laws, such as the Arizona Consumer Fraud Act, by “misrepresenting and hiding information” about iPhone battery problems and the irreversible negative consequences of the update that issued to fix them.
Apple agreed to a $ 113 million settlement that does not admit wrongdoing, which will be divided among states as they choose. It is not a fine, like the 25 million euro fine from the French authorities; If Apple had been responsible for the legal penalties, they could have reached a much, much higher amount than what was agreed today. The Arizona CFA provides up to $ 10,000 for each willful violation, and even a fraction of that would have accumulated very quickly given the number of people affected.
In addition to the cash settlement, Apple must “provide accurate information to consumers about the health, performance, and power management of the iPhone battery” in a number of ways. The company already made changes in this regard years ago, but settlements like this include such requirements so that they can’t just turn around and do it again, although some companies, like Facebook, do it anyway.