January 30, 2018 / 8:11 PM / 25 days ago

U.S. agencies probe Apple over slowing iPhones: Bloomberg

(Reuters) - The U.S. Department of Justice and Securities and Exchange Commission are investigating whether Apple Inc violated securities laws concerning its disclosures that it slowed older iPhones with flagging batteries, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday.

The government has requested information from the company, Bloomberg reported, citing people familiar with the matter. (bloom.bg/2DQhxaU)

The chairman of a U.S. Senate committee overseeing business issues asked Apple to answer questions about its disclosures, Reuters reported this month.

Apple did not respond to a request for comment. Representatives for the SEC and Justice Department declined to comment.

Apple admitted in December that iPhone software could slow down some phones with battery problems. Aging lithium batteries deliver power unevenly, which can cause iPhones to shut down unexpectedly to protect the delicate circuits inside, it said.

Apple posted a public apology over its handling of the issue and lowered the price of iPhone battery replacements from $79 to $29.

Consumers so far have filed some 50 proposed class action lawsuits over Apple’s latest iPhone software update, which they allege caused unexpected shutdowns and hampered the performance of iPhone models of the SE, 6 and 7 lines. They claim the company tricked consumers into believing their phones were close to the end of their life cycle, forcing them to buy new phones or pay up to $80 for a replacement battery.

Most of the lawsuits have been filed in federal court in San Jose, California, but litigation over the software updates is also pending in other federal courts across the country. Lawyers for the consumers, who began filing their complaints in early January, have asked a federal judicial panel to consolidate the litigation in California.

Consumers are asking judges to issue orders that would prevent future modifications to the iPhone’s operating system which intentionally degrade performance and battery life. They also demand an undisclosed amount in compensation and damages.

Reporting by Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru, Stephen Nellis in San Francisco, Sarah Lynch in Washington and Tina Bellon in New York; editing by Susan Thomas and Richard Chang

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