Son attacks Apple after it refuses to unlock his late mother’s iPad
Apple has been accused of an “utter lack of understanding and discretion” after refusing to unlock a dead woman’s iPad for her grieving sons.
Anthea Grant died of cancer aged 59 earlier this year, leaving her sons Josh and Patrick as the co-executors of her will and estate.
The two brothers said their mother had used her iPad “like many other women of a certain age” during her treatment, and particularly enjoyed playing puzzle games in front of the television.
Josh Grant, 26, from London, described how she had updated her iPad with the new iOS7 operating system and had been “enjoying its raft of new security measures” in the weeks before her death in a hospice on 19 January.
After the funeral, her sons realised that Mrs Grant had failed to tell her sons her unique Apple ID password. “Funnily enough, I think she had bigger things to worry about,” Mr Grant blogged.
The brothers attempted to restore the factory settings on the device, but were told by Apple that they would need “written permission from Mum”.
After they re-iterated to the US tech giant that their mother was dead, Apple asked for a copy of her death certificate, will and a letter from their solicitor.
Then Apple made even more demands, asking the family to provide a court order to unlock their mother’s tablet, invoking the Electronic Communications Privacy Act.
The order, Mrs Grant’s family said, would cost an estimated £200 and would represent what they described as a “false economy”.
Writing about his experiences with Apple on his blog, Mustn’t Grumble, Mr Grant said: “I have always been a fan of Apple but this incident has changed my opinion of them completely. Their utter lack of understanding and discretion in a time of great personal sadness has been astonishing. For a company that sells itself on the idea we are all part of one big Apple family, they have been very cold.”
He added: “Understandably, my brother has given up and we now have a redundant iPad. If anyone has any suggestions for an unusable iPad please do send them in. I’ve suggested illuminated placemat and shiny paperweight.”
The security measures are designed to prevent unauthorised access to Apple users’ online iCloud accounts, which often include personal documents, photographs and messages.
Apple was unavailable for comment. However, it told the BBC that its security devices, including a measure called Activation Lock, acted as a deterrent to theft.
The Grants’ experience draws attention to the growing issue around “digital legacies”: what to do with content stored on electronic devices after the death of the owner.
The insurance firm Saga suggests clients make a list of websites they have signed up to and passwords within their wills to avoid confusion.
In February, Apple updated its iCloud Free Account terms and conditions which now warn: “You agree that your Account is non-transferable and that any rights to your Apple ID or Content within your Account terminate upon your death.”
Independent News Service