Australian court fines Apple $6.7 million over iPhone ‘bricking’ case

“An Australian court fined U.S. electronics giant Apple Inc A$9 million ($6.7 million) on Tuesday after a regulator accused it of using a software update to disable iPhones which had cracked screens fixed by third parties,” Nicholas Ford reports for Reuters. “The Australian Competitor and Consumer Commission (ACCC) sued the world’s biggest company by market value for ‘bricking’ – or using a software update to disable – hundreds of smartphones and tablet devices, then refusing to unlock them if the devices had been serviced by non-Apple repairers.”

“‘The mere fact that an iPhone or iPad had been repaired by someone other than Apple did not, and could not, result in the consumer guarantees ceasing to apply,’ ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court said in a statement,” Ford reports. “An Apple spokeswoman said in an email the company had ‘very productive conversations with the ACCC about this’ without commenting further on the court finding.”

Ford reports, “The ACCC said after it told Apple about its investigation, the U.S. company sought to compensate customers whose devices were made inoperable by the software update, known as ‘error 53.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: You win some, you lose some. Somehow, Apple will manage to come up with $6.7 million.

BTW, this is actually a security issue, so use an Apple Authorized Service Provider to repair your Apple products.

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.

Apple wins court case over ‘Error 53’ wiped iPhones – June 21, 2016
Apple apologizes to customers, updates iOS 9.2.1 to fix ‘Error 53’ iPhones – February 18, 2016
Apple is faces class action lawsuit over iPhone’s ‘Error 53’ – February 12, 2016
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. Assuming USD $200B per year of revenue, that equates to roughly $380,500 per minute. Thus, $6.7M in less than 18 minutes. Revenue might not be the best basis for this assessment, but it gives an idea of the impact of this fine.

        It is small in terms of Apple’s business, but not negligible. Millions of dollars add up, even for Apple.

    1. So if you have plenty of money it doesn’t matter what you do? I like your morality…

      This was just a slap on the wrist.
      But here in Australia the case has had plenty of news coverage, and the real cost has been company image and loss of goodwill. That is: negative PR.

  1. “If a customer encounters an unrecoverable error 53, we recommend contacting Apple support.”

    If, however, Apple support wouldn’t tell them how to get their iPhone revalidated, then yes, Apple did a Bad Thing™ and deserves to be slapped for it.

  2. This means that the NSA has another venue in which to install a spy bug inside an iphone being repaired in a repair shop set up by the NSA.

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