Apple Reportedly Stifles Free Speech Once More, This Time With Exploding iPod Incident
Article by George Norman
On 04 Aug 2009
Apple is not getting much good press these days, not with it having a spot of trouble on the Google front, and especially with it being under the scrutiny of the FCC (Federal Communications Commission). Here’s a piece of news that adds to the bad press Apple’s been getting: it seems that the Cupertino-based software developer is accused of once again trying to stifle free speech, this time over an exploding iPod case.

I said “once again” because Apple is by no means not a stranger it trying to put a gag restriction on people who want to share their opinion. Apple did so in the case of the BluWiki site in the past (details here) and it did not end well for the Cupertino-based – it was sued by the FCC (Electronic Frontier Foundation). The lawsuit was eventually dropped when Apple retracted its legal threats (details here).


The Times now reports that Apple tried to impose a gag order on an 11-y7ear old girl from the UK, and her father. One day the girl was listening to music on her iPod when the device started to hiss and pop; the device then overheated and after that it exploded.

“It made a hissing noise. I could feel it getting hotter in my hand, and I thought I could see vapour,” said the girl’s father, 47-year old Ken Stanborough from Liverpool. He took the device and out of his back door and 30 seconds later “there was a pop, a big puff of smoke and it went 10ft in the air,” said Stanborough.

The problem occurred when he contacted Apple to get a refund; Apple sent over some papers which granted him a refund, but the curious thing is that the same papers basically imposed a gag order on him. To be more precise, the papers said that in accepting the refund Stanborough agrees to “keep the terms and existence of this settlement agreement completely confidential.” Basically not reveal that he got a refund because the iPod exploded. And if he were to breach this confidentiality agreement then this “may result in Apple seeking injunctive relief, damages and legal costs against the defaulting persons or parties.”

As interesting as this issue may appear, TUAW reports that it is commonplace and that Apple did not do anything wrong (hence the “Reportedly” part in the title). “A confidentiality agreement is standard operating procedure. Sure, a letter filled with legalese is a little heavy-handed, but hey, the iPod was out of warranty and when a company agrees to give you money it doesn't feel it owes you, especially in a situation such as this one, it can very well request confidentiality you keep your trap shut about it going forward. It's standard practice even when the company thinks it probably does owe you money,” explained TUAW’s Lauren Hirsch.

Tags: Apple, iPod, Confidentiality agreement
About the author: George Norman
George is a news editor.
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Apple Reportedly Stifles Free Speech Once More, This Time With Exploding iPod Incident
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