We know that Apple is playing hardball with the U.S. government and law enforcement when it comes to device encryption and protecting the privacy of its customers. But that ardent defense of its users also exists after death — even when it’s a loved one that is requesting access to a deceased family member’s Apple ID password.
Such is the case of 72-year-old Peggy Bush, who lost her husband to lung cancer over the summer. Bush wanted to play a card game on her husband’s iPad, but was stymied by the Apple ID password. She contacted Apple, thinking that it wouldn’t be that much of a hassle to access her late husband’s password, but it turns out that it’s quite difficult to gain access to an Apple account without the consent of the rightful owner.
Bush was initially told that she would need a will and a death certificate. She complied, providing proof of the will, which left all of David Bush’s possessions to his wife along with a notarized copy of the death certificate. After this information was provided, Bush says that she was given the runaround for two months by Apple, before it finally requested that she get a court order to access the Apple ID password.
"I thought it was ridiculous. I could get the pensions, I could get benefits, I could get all kinds of things from the federal government and the other government,” said Bush. “But from Apple, I couldn't even get a silly password. It's nonsense.”
Peggy Bush sought the help of her daughter, Donna Bush, who didn’t have any better luck breaking the Apple firewall. "I then wrote a letter to Tim Cook, the head of Apple, saying this is ridiculous. All I want to do is download a card game for my mother on the iPad,” added Donna Bush.
“I don't want to have to go to court to do that, and I finally got a call from customer relations who confirmed, yes, that is their policy."
The Bush family, finally fed up with Apple’s refusal to budge on the court order, contacted the CBC News to get involved. It was only then that Apple’s icy attitude towards the Bush family finally thawed. Apple is now working with the Donna Bush to gain her father Apple ID password so that her mother can finally access apps and games on the iPad.
"We certainly don't want other people to have to go through the hassle that we've gone through," explained Donna Bush. "We'd really like Apple to develop a policy that is far more understanding of what people go through, especially at this very difficult time in our family's life, having just lost my dad."
The Bush cases isn’t unprecedented. A similar incident occurred in the UK back in 2014. 26-year old Josh Grant and his four brothers sought Apple’s help in obtaining the Apple ID and password of their mother, who died at the age of 59, in order to access her iPad. As in the Bush case, Apple told Grant that he needed a court order even though they provided a death certificate, will and solicitor’s letter.