France: Apple facing criminal prosecution over older phone slowdown

Tech giant Apple is facing criminal prosecution in France over allegations that its phones, by slowing down as they get older, fall foul of France’s “planned obsolescence” laws.

In 2015, France became the first country in the world to introduce legislation criminalising “planned obsolescence” - whereby the lifespan of a product is deliberately limited so that a replacement is bought sooner.

Environmental activist group Halte à l’Obsolescence Programmée (Stop Planned Obsolescence) has filed documents with prosecutors in Paris claiming that Apple has “put in place a global strategy of programme obsolescence” to boost smartphone sales.

Apple is already facing civil lawsuits in the US after admitting that some of its phones get slower as they get older by deliberate design, but it denies that this is designed to encourage users to buy an upgrade.

Instead, Apple says that its software is designed to reduce demand on the battery as it ages in order to prevent unexpected shutdowns.

The case against Apple will be heard in a criminal court if the complaint submitted by HOP is found to be legitimate.

The maximum sentence for planned obsolescence is a two-year prison term for company executives and a fine of up to €300,000 plus five per cent of the company’s annual turnover.