The US Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission have opened an investigation into whether Apple violated securities disclosure laws by releasing software that slowed down older iPhones, Bloomberg is reporting. According to “people familiar with the matter,” the government has opened an initial inquiry, and asked for information from Apple.
Neither Apple nor the SEC has issued a statement on the matter yet. However, Apple’s stock, which was already having a bad day, dropped 1.4 percent in afternoon trading.
Last month, Apple admitted that a software update in iOS 10 and iOS 11 slows down some iPhone models when their batteries degrade below a certain point. The slowdowns only affect iPhone 6, iPhone 6S, and iPhone 7 regular and Plus-sized models, and Apple claims that the software updates were intended to prevent accidental shutdowns due to aged batteries, rather than slow down older devices.
However, the company is already facing dozens of class-action lawsuits in the US alone, and the governments of several countries, including France, Italy, and Korea, have opened up consumer-protection investigations into Apple. To try and mitigate the damage, Apple will introduce a toggle to disable performance changes with iOS 11.3, and it has dropped the price of replacement batteries to $29 in the meantime.
If Bloomberg‘s report is accurate, it appears that any investigation would examine a breach of securities law, rather than any false advertising or consumer protection statutes. The SEC requires publicly-traded companies to disclose known risk factors to investors, and Bloomberg‘s report hints that those requirements may be at the heart of this particular investigation.