January 10th, 2018

NDP: Committee should study Apple battery scandal

OTTAWA – Today, NDP Innovation Critic Brian Masse is calling on the Parliamentary Committee on Industry Science and Technology (INDU) to study the recent Apple iPhone battery scandal. Apple recently acknowledged that the performance of the iPhone 6 or older was deliberately slowed down in a recent Operating System software update.

“Apple had a duty to inform iPhone users that the iOS 10.2.1 update would negatively affect the performance of their device. Browsing speed is a key feature of any mobile device. They should have been more transparent with consumers about the effect of the software update,” said Masse. “Informed consent is a basic principle that should be applied in the digital space particularly when we are talking about apps that will affect core functions of any device such as web browsing speed.”

Parliament will reconvene at the end of January, and Masse, Vice Chair of the INDU Committee, wants the Committee to invite Apple and other stakeholders to Ottawa to discuss the impacts of this on Canadian consumers. The company states that this ‘feature’ was added to the software update to address the web browsing power demands. The capacity of mobile device batteries to deliver the necessary power to execute high speed web browsing functions diminishes over time (and in cold weather). The software update deliberately slows down browsing speed in order to avoid device shut down according to Apple. Some experts have alleged that the system slowdown embedded in the software update was explicitly designed to prompt consumer demand for the new iPhone 8.

“Not only was Apple disingenuous with customers at the point of sale by not apprising consumers that these battery performance issues exist in the first place, they also mislead their consumers by omitting the range of impacts of the software update,” added Masse. “As one of the top tech companies in the world, with a powerful and influential brand, Apple has an even greater responsibility to be an ethical company that competitors are incented to emulate.”

Text of Masse’s motion:


p style="margin-left:.5in;">That the House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, hold immediate hearings with witnesses from Apple, the Competition Bureau, and CRTC, on the manipulation by Apple of iPhone batteries in order to understand the impact of this on the Canadian market, competition, for consumers rights, and for Canadians who rely on these phones for personal use and the workplace.