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article imageOp-Ed: Apple refusal to unlock dead mum’s iPad is lousy law

By Paul Wallis     Mar 8, 2014 in Technology
London - The law is likely to trip over a lot of issues related to product licensing in the case of English man Josh Grant’s mother’s iPad. This is a much trickier situation than “our license doesn’t allow whatever it is” rules might suggest.
The story is simple, the facts aren’t. Mr Grant simply didn’t know his mother’s password.
According to The
Josh Grant, a 26-year-old Londoner, told the Beeb he did not know his mum's Apple ID and password. The fruity firm then refused to open up the fondleslab (presumably locked to her Apple ID) even though he has sent them copies of his mother's death certificate and will, demanding more evidence that she wished her account to be accessed.
Apple didn’t think a death certificate and a solicitor’s letter were enough, so they asked for a court order proving that Mr Grant’s mother was the owner of the iPad.
This is a little screwier than it might seem.
All hardware device licenses include owner-identifying information. They have to. It wouldn’t be that hard to find out who the owner was supposed to be.
A will, simply showing that Mr Grant was a beneficiary or that his solicitor was the executor, should have been sufficient proof of ownership.
Now the killer:
Apple owns the license.
It doesn’t own the information contained on the iPad, which is essentially private property.
The iPad itself is also private property.
Under this interpretation, Apple has effectively denied service to a client unfairly, and also prevented Mr Grant from free use and access to his own property, under the terms of the will and common law.
Apple may fairly say that it’s required/not required to do some things under the terms of its license.
It can’t, however, deny legitimately obtained access to someone’s private property.
Grant is being far more tolerant than most people would be. He’s a self-confessed Apple fan, which is probably just as well, or he’d have gone round the twist.
Other people are unlikely to be so tolerant. The question of whether or not people own information on their devices isn’t a question. They do. Product manufacturers have no claim to this information in any form. They have even less claim to withhold it.
This is class action country, and if Apple has a bemused but patient client now, expect a lot of flak unless this situation is tidied up. A simple, no fuss process is required to manage these issues. It’s unreasonable to expect a bereaved son to pay the costs of a court order simply to access a parent’s device.
If that were me, I’d tack on an order for damages for stress and aggravation caused by Apple’s policies. I doubt if I’d be alone.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
More about Apple licensing, Apple ipad, property rights and personal information on device, common law, estate law
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