Error 53: Apple could get sued over iPhone bricking


‘Error 53,’ the infamous cryptic message that appears on an iPhone after iOS 9 renders the device inoperable due to an unauthorized Home button repair, is attracting attention of top law firms which are reportedly considering taking Apple to court over the snafu, reports The Guardian.

“At least one firm of US lawyers said it hopes to bring a class action against the technology giant on behalf of victims whose £500 phones have been rendered worthless by an Apple software upgrade,” the British paper said.

Lawyers point out that Apple’s “reckless” policy of bricking iPhones that use replacement Touch ID and Home button parts could be viewed as an offense under the Criminal Damage Act 1971, which sanctions intentionally destroying one’s property.

“A person who without lawful excuse destroys or damages any property belonging to another intending to destroy or damage any such property or being reckless as to whether any such property would be destroyed or damaged shall be guilty of an offense,” states the law.

The Seattle-based law firm PCVA is aiming to bring a class action suit against Apple over ‘Error 53,’ said the British paper.

Apple Store employees reportedly told the affected customers that nothing could be done and they must buy a new handset, prompting speculation that Error 53 isn’t as much a security measure as it is an attempt on Apple’s part to force people needing a repair to their Home button to service their handset in Apple Stores, which charge a premium for an official Home button replacement.

“We believe Apple may be intentionally forcing users to use their repair services, which cost much more than most third-party repair shops,” said PCVA in a statement.

“There is incentive for Apple to keep end users from finding alternative methods to fix their products. Think of it this way: let’s say you bought a car, and had your alternator replaced by a local mechanic. Under Apple’s strategy, your car would no longer start because you didn’t bring it to an official dealership. They intentionally disable your car because you tried to fix it yourself. That is wrong,” reads a post on the PCVA website.

Error 53 denotes a hardware issue that stops the software update or restore from completing. In a nutshell, iOS 9 bricks the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus devices which have had their Touch ID modules or Home buttons replaced by an unauthorized repair firm using non-original components.

Apple went to great lengths to discourage bypassing the iPhone’s biometric cannot so the device only works if a Home button is paired to a specific Touch ID sensor and cables, based on parts’ hardware encoded serial numbers.

“This check ensures the device and the iOS features related to touch ID remain secure,” an Apple spokesperson said. “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.”

“This security measure is necessary to protect your device and prevent a fraudulent Touch ID sensor from being used,” said the Cupertino firm, urging customers who encounter Error 53  to contact Apple Support.

Source: The Guardian