French prosecutors have opened an investigation into Apple over revelations it secretly slowed down older versions of its handsets.

The Paris prosecutor’s office said on Tuesday a probe was opened last week over alleged deception and planned obsolescence of some Apple products. It is led by the French body in charge of fraud control, which is part of the finance ministry.

It follows a legal complaint filed in December by a French consumer rights group that aims to stop intentional obsolescence of goods by companies.

In France it is illegal to intentionally shorten the lifespan of a product in order to encourage customers replace it. A 2015 law makes it a crime, with penalties of up to two years in prison and fines of up to 5 per cent of the company’s annual turnover.

Apple apologised in December for secretly slowing down older iPhones, a move it said was necessary to avoid unexpected shutdowns related to battery fatigue.

“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 company said on its website.


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