Apple is being accused of bullying a 72-year-old widow in Canada by refusing to give her the password to her late husband's Apple ID for months, and demanding a court order.
Peggy Bush of Victoria, British Columbia, lost her husband David to lung cancer in August of 2015. The couple owned an Apple computer as well as an iPad, and after his death, Bush continued to use the iPad to play a card-game app, until one day the app stopped working. Bush's family tried to help her reload the app on the iPad, but loading apps requires a transaction with the App Store, which required Bush to enter the password, which only her late husband had known.
Without the password, the only thing that the Bush family could do would be to reset the iPad and set up a new Apple ID account, but this meant that they would have to pay again to purchase the same apps and content that were on David's Apple ID account.
Donna Bush, Peggy's daughter, rang Apple and was told by a customer-service rep that it was not a problem for them to give out the password, as long as the Bushes submitted David's will and death certificate and were able to speak with with Peggy.
"You need a court order"
But when the Bushes called Apple with the information, Apple's customer service claimed they didn't know who Donna was and had no record of having the previous conversation. After several calls over a period of two months, Apple told Donna that the death certificate and David's will leaving everything to his wife still wasn't enough, and that the only way to get the password was to get a court order, which could cost thousands of dollars.
"I finally got someone who said, 'You need a court order'. I was just completely flummoxed. What do you mean a court order? I said that was ridiculous, because we've been able to transfer the title of the house, we've been able to transfer the car, all these things, just using a notarised death certificate and the will," Donna told CBC News.
"I then wrote a letter to Tim Cook, the head of Apple, saying this is ridiculous. All I want to do is download a card game for my mother on the iPad. I don't want to have to go to court to do that, and I finally got a call from customer relations who confirmed, yes, that is their policy."
Apple suddenly apologises after media interest
It was at this point that the Bushes contacted CBC News' investigative news segment Go Public to complain, and CBC News contacted Apple for comment, with the intention of writing about the issue online and broadcasting a TV news package about it. Interestingly, once CBC News made contact with Apple, the technology giant suddenly apologised for the "misunderstanding", and as of 18 January 2016, was working with Donna to resolve the issue and get the password to the Bushes.
Apple has refused to comment to CBC News about its official policy on helping families of the deceased to gain access to their loved ones' accounts. IBTimes UK has contacted Apple about the issue and is now waiting for a response.
According to Macworld UK, Apple has never stated what its official policy is on what happens to the content of a person's Apple account after they die, so the magazine advises that when people draw up their will, they should include their Apple ID and password in it so that relatives can log into iTunes and/or the App Store and update the account information with a new name, password, email and payment details.
Also, when drawing up your will, don't forget to include the passcode to all your devices, otherwise your loved ones would not be able to access the account if you have two-factor authentication enabled, wherein Apple sends a verification code to your mobile phone.