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iPhone slowdowns focus of talks

Justice, SEC looking into if update slows older devices

The iPhone logo is reflected in a new Apple iPhone X in this illustration picture, November 2, 2017. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/Illustration
The iPhone logo is reflected in a new Apple iPhone X in this illustration picture, November 2, 2017. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov/Illustration

Apple late Tuesday said government officials have questioned the tech giant about a software update that slowed down older iPhones, escalating a problem that has already damaged Apple’s reputation with consumers.

“We have received questions from some government agencies and we are responding to them,” Apple spokesperson Trudy Muller said in a statement.

Apple’s statement did not refer to any specific agency.

Apple also reiterated that it did not release the update — designed to preserve battery life — to make older phones obsolete to sell new ones. Apple intentionally throttled the speed of most iPhones older than the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, both released late last year, when the battery power was low or the software sensed the battery was old.

“As we told our customers in December, we have never — and would never — do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades,” the statement said.

Apple’s statement comes amid reports that the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission have asked Apple for more information about the software update from last January. The agencies are looking into whether Apple may have violated securities laws, but have not yet determined that there was wrongdoing, according to a Tuesday report from Bloomberg.

The SEC’s involvement suggests that the government is looking at how Apple’s actions affected investors.

The SEC declined to comment. The Justice Department did not respond to a request for comment.

In the statement, Apple said a new spring software update will allow iPhone users to see if the power throttling function is on and control it.

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