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Consumer group considering criminal case against Apple

A consumer group filing a civil suit against Apple on behalf of over 100 plaintiffs for damages related to a recent software update that slowed down older iPhone models said Thursday that they are also considering preparing a criminal case.

“If we pursue a criminal case, the charges may include destruction of property caused by slowing down the phones, as well as fraud if (Apple) intentionally deceived users about the update,” said Yun Chul-min, a lawyer working with the consumer rights group Citizens United for Consumer Sovereignty, at a press conference Thursday.

CUCS was set to file a civil suit representing 122 plaintiffs Thursday, asking for 2.2 million won ($2,000) in damages per plaintiff. The sum includes 1.2 million won for costs related to replacing phones that slowed down as a result of Apple’s operating system update, and 1 million won in compensation for distress.

Representatives of CUCS hold a press conference on Thursday at CUCS headquarters in Seoul. (Yonhap)
Representatives of CUCS hold a press conference on Thursday at CUCS headquarters in Seoul. (Yonhap)

This is the first consumer suit to be filed against Apple in Korean courts, but similar suits are ongoing in the US, Israel, France and Australia.

In an official statement on Dec. 20, Apple acknowledged that it had released a software update that could slow down the launch and operation of apps on older iPhones such as the iPhone 6 in order to manage battery power and prevent sudden shutdowns. 

On a second statement on Dec. 28, the company apologized for failing to effectively communicate the potential effects of the update, while denying that the update was intended to drive consumers to upgrade to new editions of the iPhone.

“There are many more users who are coming forward as potential plaintiffs, and we are planning to file a second and third civil suit representing additional plaintiffs,” said Ko Kye-hyun, secretary-general of CUCS. 

CUCS also said that the case lawyers would be sending a request to wireless carriers for more information to determine whether they could also be held partially responsible for selling potentially defective hardware.

In addition to CUCS’ suit, other local law firms including Hannuri and Hwimyung are preparing to file suits on behalf of Korean iPhone users against Apple and Apple Korea.

By Won Ho-jung (