Several Belgian newspapers are reporting that a Brussels investigative magistrate has weighed whether to coerce Internet service providers into effectively blocking Apple websites in Belgium, citing sources.
The judge’s consideration followed a complaint about the American company allegedly misleading consumers on product warranties, filed by the Federal Public Service (FPS) Economy in Belgium.
According to media reports, the Brussels magistrate considered going as far as asking Belgian ISPs Belgacom and Telenet to block Apple websites outright in the interest of ‘protecting consumers’, but is now unsure of how to proceed.
Update: post edited to make it clearer that the magistrate has considered blocking Apple websites in the past, but is now weighing other options.
The complaint was filed last year, but hasn’t been brought to light until today, as the magistrate is reportedly weighing his options after realizing that restricting access to Apple websites would affect iTunes users and other customers in a myriad of ways.
At the heart of the complaint is the fact that Apple provides Belgian buyers of its products with a free one-year limited commercial warranty, but the company is required under EU law to protect buyers with a minimum of two years protection on all newly purchased consumer electronics, which includes its iPhone, iPad, Apple TV and iPod devices, including in Belgium.
To extend coverage beyond one year, Apple customers are encouraged to purchase the AppleCare Protection Plan or AppleCare+.
In the course of last year, Apple modified its websites EU-wide to inform customers that they, in fact, are legally entitled to (a minimum of) two years of free warranty on products, but not everyone is in agreement whether that is sufficient.
Apple Europe has not yet responded to a request for comment.
It’s not the first time Apple has entered the spotlights over its product warranties in these parts.
In the beginning of last year, Belgian consumer protection organisation Test-Aankoop filed a lawsuit against Apple for not respecting local laws on warranties.
In the past, Apple has also come under repeated fire by a group of European consumer groups.
To be continued, no doubt.
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