Tech firms must respect users' rights

Updated 2017-12-27 10:44:23 China Daily
Photo taken on Sept. 13, 2017 shows an iPhone 8 smartphone.

Photo taken on Sept. 13, 2017 shows an iPhone 8 smartphone.

Apple admitted on Wednesday that it slows down older models of the iPhone as they age via updates to the operating system, claiming it did so in order to "prolong the life" of the devices and maximize diminishing battery power. Beijing News comments:

According to Apple's announcement, the company limits the processing speed of older models of iPhones purely in the interests of users-that's a rather altruistic motive.

The problem is its announcement shows it has total disrespect for users' rights. When an iPhone is sold it becomes the buyer's property, over which he or she has full rights. Even if measures are needed to prolong an older generation iPhones' operational life, it depends on the users' choice in deciding what to do. Apple has no right to make that decision for users.

It should be noted that Apple did not offer any choice to its customers. It simply updated the iOS and slowed old iPhones down, without informing customers of what it was doing. Had its practice not been discovered, Apple would have concealed the whole thing forever.

If Apple really slowed down old iPhones only to promote sales of its new products, it is rather foolish because iPhone's biggest attraction to customers lies in its good performance and culture. By forcing people to buy new ones, Apple has ruined its own reputation, and its products might lose their appeal to many iPhone fans.

That incident should also remind people about one possible risk in this age of technology. Technology companies might be able to deprive users of many rights without ever letting us know they have done so. It is necessary to limit the power of technology companies with proper legislation, so as to better protect the legal rights of ordinary users.

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