Apple censors Lawrence Lessig over warranty information; iOS 7 mess grows

The man behind Creative Commons was twice censored by Apple in its Community forums when he tried to share warranty information with users who lost Wi-Fi after the iOS 7 update.
Written by Violet Blue, Contributor

A significant number of Apple users have lost Wi-Fi functions after its glitch-ridden iOS 7 update. Ignored since September, Apple Support Communities members are now watching their solutions be deleted by Apple.

And according to Lawrence Lessig, Apple is also preventing its users from posting innocent questions about the deletions.

Mr Lessig personally experienced Apple's censors today, when two of his comments were disallowed — with one removed for forum violation — when he joined the growing throngs of iOS 7 upgrade failure victims.

ios7 lessig censorship

The man behind Creative Commons, and friend and lawyer to Aaron Swartz, Lessig is now part of an angry mob in Apple's forums who upgraded to iOS 7 and lost Wi-Fi connectivity.

When a warranty return solution was posted in the forum, Lessig witnessed firsthand that Apple is deleting this information — and more — from its support boards.

Mr Lessig first experienced Apple's censorship when he was prevented from posting a comment asking whether Apple removed comments.

Frustrated at this, along with Apple's lack of response in its forums, and the non-trivial difficulty in restoring any device to a pre-iOS 7 state, he had also taken particular notice of a UK commenter who found a last-ditch solution in returning their device under UK warranty laws.

But when Lessig blinked, the comment was gone.

Lessig reposted the comment, which explained to the growing mass of iOS 7 vanished-Wi-Fi victims that in the EU, if an iOS update breaks your phone, you can return it due to warranty protections and get a new one.

Lessig's own comment was deleted — and Apple admonished him for posting inappropriate content to its forums.

Apple told Mr Lessig,

We understand the desire to share experiences in your topic, "Re: Wi-Fi greyed out after update to iOS 7," but because these posts are not allowed on our forums, we have removed it.

Lessig responded in a blog post detailing the experience, Wow, or from the When-Apple-Became-the-Borg Department,

OK, so what precisely is the valid objection here? Sure, the community site is intended for technical issues. That was what the thread began with — a technical issue.

When there was no corporate response to that technical issue, some started to offer advice to other customers about what they could do to deal with that issue.

When did it become inappropriate to inform people about legally protected rights related to technical issues? Is talking about legal rights the new porn?

Lessig had at first thought that the UK warranty comment — though informative — seemed a touch paranoid in its mention that Apple was deleting helpful iOS 7 comments from Apple forum users.

Having saved a copy of the comment, Mr Lessig reposted it, noting that the comment was a repost but contained essential information for UK Apple users.

He remarked that UK users were lucky to have this solution available (US users have no such legal protections with Apple products).

Lessig's "Borg" post detailing his "Support" experience circled the larger problems at hand, which prompted the comment in the first place — namely, the serious technical problems in the iOS 7 rollout, and Apple's refusal to answer legitimate user questions in its forums.

I upgraded my iPhone ("what, you have an iPhone" — OK, you win, sin #1) to iOS 7.0.3. It killed Wi-Fi. I went to the Apple discussion site to see what the community had to say about it.

Seems there are lots of people who had the same problem.

... This link is a great example: link.

As you read through it, you'll see that it's fairly clear there's a bug which is causing significant trouble; clear that there's been no response from Apple; and clear that the troops are getting angry.

Lessig is now watching — and recording — Apple's active removal of legitimate Support Communities queries, such as his new post, the slaughter continues — Apple's latest deleted comment.

Currently, the Apple Support Communities post, Wi-Fi greyed out after update to iOS 7, has 4,806 views and only 25 comments — but as Mr Lessig discovered, the comment number is higher and unknown, due to Apple's active removal of legitimate comments about the problem.

The Wi-Fi issue is only one of nearly two dozen of the many known, serious bugs in Apple's seventh major release of the iOS mobile operating system.

Today, iOS 7 users are reporting a new glitch in the calendar's daylight savings time function.

Apple's policy to remove comments that lend legitimate help is little more than a display of censorship for the internet thought leader, who clearly understands that it is Apple's right to censor its forum users.

But it shows that Apple is well aware of the problem and the critical mass being reached over iOS 7's serious technical problems — and is both refusing to help and actively removing solutions it simply doesn't like.

ZDNet has reached out to Apple for comment and will update this post if it responds.

Editorial standards