French authorities get Apple software update after iPhone 12 dispute – ministry source

By Elizabeth Pineau

PARIS (Reuters) -French authorities have received a software update from Apple for its iPhone 12 and are reviewing it as a fix for a radiation issue, a source at the French digital ministry told Reuters on Tuesday.

Apple pledged to update the software to defuse a row over radiation levels from iPhone 12 handsets, after France suspended sales of the phones earlier this month following tests it said found breaches of radiation exposure limits.

France had threatened to seek a product recall if Apple had refused to do a software update.

Apple had earlier contested the French findings, saying the iPhone 12 was certified by multiple international bodies as compliant with global standards, but said on Sept.15 it would issue a software update to accommodate the testing methods used in France.

The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

The move by Paris to suspend sales of the iPhone 12 handsets had prompted concerns in other European countries, including Belgium, which has also asked for the software upgrade.

But the software update was limited to France, Belgian industry regulator told Reuters in an emailed statement.

The Belgian regulator also said it expected more steps at a European level after the French authorities inform their peers about the fix and the fact that is not available widely in the European Union.

French regulator Agence Nationale des Frequences did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Dutch digital watchdog also did not respond to a request for comment.

Italian authorities will wait for French deliberations over the Apple update before taking any decision, an Italian government source said.

Researchers have conducted multiple studies over the last two decades to assess the health risks of mobile phones. According to the World Health Organisation, no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by them.

The radiation warning in France was based on results of tests that differ from those carried out in other countries.

Industry experts said there were no safety risks as regulatory limits, based on the risk of burns or heatstroke from the phone’s radiation, were set well below levels where scientists have found evidence of harm.

Apple launched the iPhone 15 earlier this month and the iPhone 12 is not available to buy from Apple directly. It can, however, be bought from third parties that have inventory, or trade old phones.

Apple routinely provides software updates for its phones and computers, mostly to fix a security issue. They can be focused on a particular model or a region, and sometimes Apple issues several updates in a month.

The iPhone 12 update is set to be similar to any of these regular software fixes. Apple pings iPhones for eligible software updates and users install them.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Pineau; Additional reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Stockholm, Benoit Van Overstraeten in Paris, Marine Strauss in Brussels, Elivira Pollina and Giuseppe Fonte in Milan; Writing by Ingrid Melander; Editing by Sharon Singleton and Jane Merriman)