back to article Sueball claims Apple broke hacking laws with iOS batt throttling code

The saga of class-action lawsuits looming over Apple's iOS battery management took a new turn last week – as the Cupertino giant was accused of violating American hacking laws. A complaint [PDF] filed in the US federal district court of northern California lists a violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act among the charges …

  1. Waseem Alkurdi Silver badge

    The plaintiffs stand a decent chance of losing

    Because this is America, folks. Plaintiffs' pockets are nowhere as deep as Apple Inc.'s tax-haven-ed ones.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The plaintiffs stand a decent chance of losing

      You say that like the greedy lawyers driving this class-action lawsuit aren't equally despicable. The sole reason why they're going after Apple is because of those deep, deep pockets.

      I'd be genuinely surprised if every iOS user didn't agree to the battery-throttling code by accepting the EULA. Of course, whether that agreement is legally binding or not is a wholly different matter.

    2. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Re: The plaintiffs stand a decent chance of losing

      The plaintiffs will lose because they are dumb. Will they be suing every time that Apple releases new functionality that performs differently to the current version? Yes - they probably will, doesn't mean the lawsuit is valid however.

      Apple are trapped between a rock and hard place on this one. ALL electronic devices have a finite battery life, I for one would prefer the Apple approach to the scr*w them approach from Android.

      Every one of my Androids have lasted <2 years due to battery issues, I just price that into my Android purchases, maybe if they took Apples approach they wouldn't. However since I can get a mid-high range "last years" handset for 200-300 notes I still come out ahead.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The plaintiffs stand a decent chance of losing

        "I for one would prefer the Apple approach to the scr*w them approach from Android".

        My 18 month old iPhone has a maximum battery capacity of 91% so should be fairly healthy. However a few months ago an app played up and the phone restarted. Afterwards I got the new battery throttling message. I've disabled the throttling because I don't want the performance of my phone retarded and I have had no problems with the phone since so does my phone have a battery issue or not?

        It does make Apple's solution look, at best, like a knee jerk reaction. "Phone restarts once - lets reduce performance". If they throttled performance if the phone rebooted due to a power surge every day for a week then fair enough but to cripple the phone after one badly behaved app caused a reboot seems extreme unless it is simply to force users to upgrade.

      2. fishman

        Re: The plaintiffs stand a decent chance of losing

        "Every one of my Androids have lasted <2 years due to battery issues"

        My first Android lasted 5 years - the battery was still in good condition. On the other hand, my son killed the battery in his iphone in a year.

  2. Thoguht Silver badge

    Trespass to chattels?

    Like when a certain company downloads OS updates to my computer without my express permission?

    But like AC above says, probably allowed by the EULA.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Trespass to chattels?

      probably allowed by the EULA EULA even in California is still contract law. It is trumped by nearly any other law and statute under the sun.

      So if one of the quoted statutes is found to apply, Apple's deep pockets will have to transfer a sum of money into the attorney's deep pockets and the actual users will get a doodle on a stick.

      Most of the quoted statutes will need some very serious stretching to apply though. For example, transmitting an update being a violation of various illegal access and computer misuse statutes. That's just... precious as an idea...

      1. Fungus Bob Silver badge
        Gimp

        Re: doodle on a stick

        They've already got that. It's called an iPhone...

      2. Jamie Jones Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: Trespass to chattels?

        probably allowed by the EULA EULA even in California is still contract law. It is trumped by nearly any other law and statute under the sun.

        I always wondered if they had similar laws regarding that.

        It's strange, therefore, that Americans seem to submit to EULA's more readily than we do.

        Is it due to corporations higher political power, or their media influence, I wonder.

        1. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: Trespass to chattels?

          "It's strange, therefore, that Americans seem to submit to EULA's more readily than we do"

          Personally, I ignore them completely.

          1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

            Re: Trespass to chattels?

            Cool.

            To be more precise than in my original post, it seems American companies attach more importance to the EULA, without there appearing to be too much vocal opposition.

            So many times, I've had people argue with me, saying that I've agreed to something that is clearly not legal, just because it's in the EULA (and don't get me wrong, sometimes they are briish). My thoughts have been "not where I live, mate".

            I'm glad you have those protections - a puty more people didn't realise - as I said, I guess the big companies have powerful media resources.

    2. Donn Bly

      Re: Trespass to chattels?

      Well, if you run that OS you have already given your express permission - at least in their mind.

      The reason this case should fail, however, is that the processor throttling code was designed to preserve the advertised functionality of the equipment to ensure that continued to meet the advertised fitness of purpose. They advertised battery life in hours, not how many iops the processor gives any particular app at any time. As part of basic system maintenance they extended battery life so that it came closer to that of when the unit was new, and did so without taking away any of the abilities of the device.

      Contrast this to Samsung, who slowly killed off each of the features on my S6 Active that I used until the phone no longer performed the functions for which I purchased it.

      Yes, Apple should have been more transparent - but when has Apple been transparent about anything other than their store furnishings?

      1. Oddlegs

        Re: Trespass to chattels?

        Except Apple advertise performance as well as battery life even if they don't mention how many iops you can expect. If you buy a device advertised as including an A10 processor then it's reasonable to assume it will run at near capacity (if the demand is there) and isn't artifically throttled.

  3. Dunstan Vavasour
    Facepalm

    School Playground

    Why don't they all grow up?

    1. pɹɐʍoɔ snoɯʎuouɐ
      Coat

      Re: School Playground

      "Why don't they all grow up?"

      Because apple want to fuck every user in the ass without even giving them the pleasure of a reach around. ... And the lawyers want to riffle through the pockets of apple when they catch them with the pants around their ankles with a line of fresh customers prostrate in front of them.... and when they cant reach deep enough in apples pockets they help themselves to the content of the customers pockets....

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    California is full of frustrated movie people

    Methinks while filed in Northern California, this complaint was written out closer to LA, by failed script writers. Substitute a few words and it'd make a great mad scientist / horror plot. Such hair raising statements... what audience are they playing to?

  5. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

    Meanwhile somewhere in China...

    The Politburo is reminded of Krushchev's comment about attending the funeral of capitalism, and wonders if he guessed that the gravediggers would be lawyers.

  6. JohnFen Silver badge

    What nonsense

    "The suit argues that the iOS update slowed down a device in order to preserve battery life. In doing so Apple intentionally "damaged" its hardware without user knowledge or permission, violation of the CFAA"

    Nonsense. the update did not damage anything. It was attempting to mitigate the damage that time and use caused the battery.

    I think Apple handled this in the worst possible way (they should have alerted users of affected devices and given them a choice to do the slowdown), but this legal argument is a nonstarter.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What nonsense

      "Damage" in this legal context doesn't have the same connotations of physical breakage as it does in everyday use.

      1. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: What nonsense

        Yes, I understand. I don't see that Apple caused any "damage" in any sense, though. They were mitigating the effects of actual damage. In other words, they were extending the lifespan of the devices.

  7. John Crisp

    Consumer protection

    Yup I'm all for protecting the rights of the consumer.

    Yup. Apple should have given users a clear choice. Maybe a nice little slider for "Battery vs Speed" (can I patent that??!!)

    However. Who are the main beneficiaries here?

    All I see is an island buying competition between lawyers.

    How much are the users going to get?

    There's a time and place for a class action. I'm not sure this qualifies.

    1. Eddy Ito Silver badge

      Re: Consumer protection

      Meh, class actions have always been little more than a way to enrich a few lawyers who claim to be suing on behalf of everyone while knowing full well that everyone will still be just as screwed as they were before and stripped of any hope for real recompense. It's a bit like California's Prop 65 law only not as bad since at least the lawyers in a class action actually have to find at least one person who was harmed in some way where Prop 65 suits don't - see Lawyers v. Coffee.

      If Apple were smart they should try to get all these class actions into a single suit since they all represent the same class. It would have the added benefit of cutting into the pockets of all the various lawyers since they would each get a smaller cut and it's likely that a single payout would be smaller than the sum of several payouts should they lose.

      1. rexyup

        Re: Consumer protection

        Because lawyers are greedy, corporate malfeasance should not be punished.

        It’s a novel theory, and one that’s certainly appreciated by the big companies, but I don’t know that I agree.

        The benefit of class-actions to consumers is not usually money, it’s punishing bad behavior, and sometimes making that bad behavior change. Since lawyers spend all of the hours in court, while consumers simply wait for an outcome, yeah, the lawyers tend to get the money for actually conducting the lawsuit, making arguments, etc.

        EULAs are “adhesion contracts” which do not carry the same weight as actual contracts anywhere. Contracts are negotiated, not attached to people for clicking a button after being on-screen for 3 seconds. Apple knows it’s been onscreen for 3 seconds, knows you can’t read 27 pages o legalese in 3 seconds, and thus cannot represent in good faith that you read it. When a new Apple download appears, there is only the option to “Upgrade Now” or “Upgrade Later”. There is no option to decline. As such, it is not a legal “contract” in the USA. You must have the option to clearly and conspicuously decline. They also show the EULA after the update has installed, essentially locking you out of your $1,000 phone if you disagree. Once again, not binding.

        Apple is so rabid about being deceptive, they can’t help themselves but to invalidate their own contracts. They just can’t restrain themselves. Not giving you the option to decline is very unwise, but that’s the avarice they have, and they will get bitten by it, and they will probably fail to learn.

        Those with IQs in the double digits believe the line about Apple throttling to help customers. Those above this level are aware of the reasons this does not make sense. There’s more of the former in the USA than the latter, however, which is why things are the way that they are here. It’s not that we accept EULAs, it’s that the 20% only get what the 80% will accept, and there’s not much left to choose from thereafter.

        We cater to the lower intellects, and cast the most demanding customers aside.

        “Most people don’t care about xxxxxxx, they just want xxxxxxx” is a common refrain here.

        Idiot-rule is what we practice, and that’s just the way the ruling-class and their corporate masters like it.

  8. ma1010 Silver badge
    Alert

    Watch those EULAs

    Obligatory Dilbert here.

    1. JLV Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Watch those EULAs

      You know, I really look forward to a court case where the lead lawyer pleading an EULA-based defense is asked detailed questions about the contents of the 500 page EULA on any of his devices. And his team is allowed to help by chipping in about any of theirs.

      And when it is shown not even lawyers ever read them that is used to throw out EULA abuse evermore.

      Sadly, about the same probability as Kate Upton jumping in my bed.

      1. onefang Silver badge

        Re: Watch those EULAs

        Who do you think writes those EULAs?

  9. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Too narrow

    This would serve the public better if it was establishing this as warranty fraud. It's all too common to hide widespread manufacturing defects with a software change that causes a significant departure from advertised performance. Phone and automobile makers normally top the list but Intel could be joining the party.

    1. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Too narrow

      "It's all too common to hide widespread manufacturing defects"

      To the best of my knowledge, this case did not involve any manufacturing defects. Although I'd argue that having a non-user-replaceable battery is a design defect.

      1. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

        Re: Too narrow

        At least in the earlier talks of lawsuits, people were saying that their phone was slowing down while the warranty should have covered early battery failure.

      2. rexyup

        Re: Too narrow

        Given the Android batteries don't (under usual circumstances), suffer the same problem as Apple's, you could argue that the batteries are defective. Yeah, yeah, Samsung's exploded, but they recalled them. Apple just sapped performance and called it a day.

        Android batteries really are the elephant in the room. People go on and on about how Apple was trying to help the customer and all this and that ... while completely ignoring the fact that Android does not do this. I have a large family with a lot of functional old devices laying around, both Android and iOS. There's an EVO from 2010, some phones from 2012 ... contrary to iPeople's made-up scenarios, the batteries in the Android devices last one heck of a long time, and they do so while maintaining the same performance throughout the aging curve.

        Yet, Apple was throttling 1 year-old batteries.

        To "help" the customer.

        It's okay that it doesn't make sense, though. When you've bought an identity, You'l validate it to the end and make excuses for anything that doesn't add up.

        It's human psychology.

  10. jms222

    All low power devices

    All modern battery-powered devices have this compromise between being able to power up properly, performing at benchmarks for willy-waving purposes and not costing too much.

    The power supply itself is also a balance between being able to charge and power the thing at full tilt and itself being not too expensive or large. For example when the Microsoft whatever was found to discharge even when powered under load a little while ago.

    Nothing new here.

  11. jaffa99

    Who's cashing in ?

    "Apple has been facing a parade of class-action lawsuits in recent months as lawyers look to cash in on the throttling controversy"

    How dare those lawyers try to cash in on Apple's attempts to cash in. Disgusting.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm suing

    I bought an iPhone X and everyone seems to be laughing at me.

    Apple destroyed my credibility amongst my peers

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