Apple’s security measures lock sons out of inherited iPad

Madeleine Swain
6 March, 2014
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In the UK, that venerable British institution, the BBC has reported a case of Apple perhaps being a touch over zealous in its adherence to its security rules and regulations.

The news site has reported the case of a woman who died of cancer, leaving her iPad to her five sons in her will. No, this isn’t a case of acrimonious legacy battles. Anthea Grant’s sons have already decided quite simply among themselves that the eldest son Patrick should have the tablet.

Anthea Grant bought the iPad a couple of years ago, when she was first diagnosed with the illness, in order to distract herself with puzzles and keep in video contact with her children. Her London-based son, Josh, 26, told The Independent that she updated her iPad with iOS 7 and had been “enjoying its raft of new security measures” in the the last few weeks before she died, aged just 59, on 19 January in a hospice.

Anthea was clearly an organised woman: she covered the iPad in her will, and named Patrick and Josh as the co-executors of her estate (having been predeceased by her husband). What she neglected to do, however, was tell her sons her Apple ID password. As Josh Grant blogged later, “Funnily enough, I think she had bigger things to worry about.”

Now they can’t get into the tablet. Attempting to restore the device to its factory sessions, they were told they would need written permission from their mother. Naturally, this was impossible, so they sent Apple a copy of her death certificate, the will and a covering letter from their solicitor.

This still wasn’t enough, however, and Apple invoked the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, instructing the Grants to provide a court order in order to unlock the tablet.

As the family reasonably points out, this would be something of a false economy. To provide a court order, they would have to engage their solicitor, who charges £200 an hour. In the UK, a brand new iPad Air costs £399, while an iPad 2 is £329.

For its part, Apple declined to comment, but instead told the BBC that its security measures, including Activation Lock, were a deterrent to theft. Also, last month it updated its security terms and conditions for its free iCloud accounts – these now read, “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.”

But the Grants just want to be able to use the machine, which of course their mother bought outright.

Josh Grant wrote about his frustration on his ironically titled Mustn’t Grumble blog, “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. 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.”


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