Apple is faces class action lawsuit over iPhone’s ‘Error 53’

“US law firm PCVA has filed an application for a class action lawsuit on behalf of angry iPhone owners affected by an Apple software update that bricks devices if Touch ID has been repaired by an unapproved dealer,” Liam Tung reports for ZDNet.

“The firm signalled last week, in the wake of the so-called ‘Error 53’ controversy, that it was exploring a class action suit against Apple over the issue,” Tung reports. “On Thursday, PCVA filed an application in the District Court for the Northern District of California, seeking relief on behalf of several affected iPhone 6 owners.”

“If an iPhone 6’s Touch ID fingerprint sensor has been replaced by a non-Apple approved repair shop, the device becomes unusable and displays an ‘Error 53’ message, advising them to contact Apple support,” Tung reports. “The suit is seeking an order that would force Apple to stop disabling iPhones that have been repaired by a third-party and provide a software update that restores functionality to them… PCVA accuses Apple of exploiting the “cult-like following” it enjoys and argues the class action should proceed on the basis that damages affecting thousands of iPhones exceed $5m.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Idiots.

This is a security issue.

Apple’s previous statement regarding the matter:

We protect fingerprint data using a secure enclave, which is uniquely paired to the touch ID sensor. When iPhone is serviced by an authorized Apple service provider or Apple retail store for changes that affect the touch ID sensor, the pairing is re-validated. This check ensures the device and the iOS features related to touch ID remain secure. Without this unique pairing, a malicious touch ID sensor could be substituted, thereby gaining access to the secure enclave. When iOS detects that the pairing fails, touch ID, including Apple Pay, is disabled so the device remains secure. When an iPhone is serviced by an unauthorised repair provider, faulty screens or other invalid components that affect the touch ID sensor could cause the check to fail if the pairing cannot be validated. With a subsequent update or restore, additional security checks result in an “error 53” being displayed… If a customer encounters an unrecoverable error 53, we recommend contacting Apple support.

Error 53: Once again, Apple PR drops the ball – February 9, 2016
Apple under pressure as lawyers pledge action over ‘Error 53’ iPhones – February 9, 2016
‘Error 53’ fury mounts as Apple software update kills some iPhones ‘fixed’ by non-Apple repair shops – February 5, 2016


    1. Agree 100%. This is a dick move by Apple and they need to lose this lawsuit and learn never to treat their customers this way again. Their explanation in no way validates their *choice* to brick people’s phones. It only validates them disabling that single feature and they should do so with a much more descriptive error message than “Error 53”, that error message is also bullshit.

    1. People getting their phones serviced by non-Apple techs may not be about “cutting corners”, they may be traveling in part of the world where Apple does not have service, or they may live there.

      Regardless, even if they were cheaping out, all that should happen is that they should lose access to that feature, not their entire phone. That is pure bullshit, and no way is your “there is no excuse for stupid” comment called for unless you mean Apple.

  1. *Shaking Head*Laughing*

    PCVA accuses Apple of exploiting the “cult-like following” it enjoys and argues the class action should proceed on the basis that damages affecting thousands of iPhones exceed $5m.”

    Bottom crawlers wasting their time. I’ve posted the iOS warranty here a couple times. There is no lawsuit over this issue. So sorry. But Apple DOES need to address this situation with a statement and at least a paid service for restoring bricked phones.

    1. Bullshit.

      Bricking phones on purpose in NO WAY should lead to a “paid service” this was a choice by Apple that was a bad choice and Apple should never do this, pay the damages, and restore phones for free.

      Apple can have whatever legal document it wants, it cannot hide behind such a document to purposefully brick people’s phones.

  2. Once again the clueless MDN strikes. I hope they win. I hope Apple has to replace every one of the phones that it bricked with its own hubris. This is my property paid for with my money. Apple can go fuck themselves.

    1. A clueless Dick comes in. That issue is way over your head buddy. Read Apple’s TOS and GTFO.

      If you don’t want to play Apple’s game don’t buy in.

      Apple will play the good guy again for those **cksake dickhead…

      1. You’re the dumb one. Understand property law here. This is a slam dunk. Apple will announce a solution and apology because they know that this will cost them in court. No court in the country cares about Terms of Service when it comes to defending property rights.

        Also, there is case law that suggests that this kind of maneuver is against the anti-trust and racketeering laws. So, Perry Mason, stick it up your ass.

        Get a clue.

      2. Apple can write whatever TOS it wants, it bricks phones by its own choosing like this then Apple will pay.

        And Tricky Dick is correct about courts laughing in Apple’s face about this bullshit TOS document.

  3. Apple will loose this. It’s not about security, it’s about the freedom to have 3rd party repairs performed on a device that you purchased. Apple can not disable a device that has had a 3rd party repair. It will never fly in court. The absolute most that Apple can do is void the warranty and possibly disable the fingerprint aspect of the software. Even the disabling of the fingerprint function might not fly.

    It’s amazing that Apple’s arrogance has it believing that they could possibly get away with this.

        1. Actually, yes, Apple can prevent 3rd-party repairs. Using the iPhone is subject to license agreement. You can return the product if you’re not satisfied within the return policy.

          The same goes for every manufacturer in existence. It’s written in many state laws that any retailer can refuse service to anyone, for any reason.

          I’m not exactly happy with that myself, but it is their right.

          1. I understand refusing service, but completely taking a device out of operation? If Apple want’s to go ahead with this perhaps all iPhones should be leased and not owned.

            1. I agree with you, but this is one of the reasons why there’s a number of people that hate Apple because of this.

              Companies that agree on good customer service won’t lock people out of their product because they want to get it repaired somewhere else.

              Perhaps Apple should think about reducing the costs of their repair services to compete more closely with third party repair centers.

          2. “The same goes for every manufacturer in existence. It’s written in many state laws that any retailer can refuse service to anyone, for any reason.”

            This would NOT apply.
            Apple refusing to sell to someone.. or refuse to allow someone in their retail stores.. yes.

            GM can’t come disable your car if you swapped out parts.
            Besides, even if you were still paying the car off… the BANK paid the car off and you owe the bank, not the car manufacturer.

            1. Agree, and there are some extremely stupid Apple fanatics here that think that Apple should stomp on its customers and be able to hide behind a bullshit legal document.

    1. I think you are correct.
      Take your car to joe blow’s auto service, the manufacturer CAN legally void the warranty.. but they don’t have the authority to disable the car.

      Apple should disable Touch ID, which would also disable Apple Pay.

  4. I understand why Apple did what they did, but the bottom line is, they blew it!
    Apple is suppose to protect their customers, not create victims. I don’t care what an Apple lawyer wrote in the fine print, they should have given the warning loud and clear about the pending bricking of phones . . . ahead of time. It is not illegal to go to third party repair places. If Apple had an issue with that, they should have given a warning, a real warning BEFORE hand as to what will happen.
    If Apple sneezes, the press will write about it. Getting the word out would have been no effort for Apple.

    Again, Apple created victims.

    1. Go one step further, don’t even allow the update to proceed if unpairing is detected. It’s probably too late security-wise to check for it during an OS update anyway.

  5. If Apple did not disable something, then people would sue saying that there is a known security flaw that Apple refused to close. Shame on Apple.

    Surely there must be a way to disable the fingerprint ID device and not brick the entire phone. As much as I don’t care for passwords, they are better than a bricked phone. Maybe the phone should just be wiped, and the owner can then restore it or a new phone using the backup which she is always keeping current, of course.

    1. Wiping the phone is also an extremely unnecessary and hostile move, and even worse than bricking it, assuming that you can restore a bricked phone without wiping it.

  6. An Apple device should NEVER, ever thrust a Microsoft-like “Error 53” in its users’ faces.

    Cook needs to resume Jobs’ direct, severe supervision and get people to answer him why this happened.

  7. Clearly this is something Apple did not see coming.
    Replacing a Home/fingerprint button should never brick your “investment”. iPhone do not come cheap; you can relate to those users’ frustration. Apple stores are not for all nearby.
    Furthermore, my experience with broken iPhones at the Apple store is unfortunately not always helpful, most of the time they want to sell you another phone, ghees.
    A simple code change can disable the “fingerprint” functionality if required, no more.
    Apple should look at the users perspective on this one.
    They make tons of money, so why should they be flimsy on this issue.
    Go Apple and make your customers happy … they already love you!

  8. I saw a video from the UK where if you cut the battery from the CPU, it will work again. Apple is not responsible for customer-installed equipment and all warranties are over if a non-Apple repair is done.

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