Seattle-based law firm Pfau Cochran Vertexes Amala (PCVA) has decided to follow through with plans to drag Apple to court over software safeguards in iOS which have been specifically designed to render iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus handsets inoperable after unauthorized Touch ID and Home button repairs.
As first noted by AppleInsider yesterday, the pending class action lawsuit was filed with with the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, alleging the Cupertino firm has “gone too far” in employing the extreme measure of bricking users’ handsets without any advance warning.
PCVA is seeking at least $5 million in damages and restitution for users affected by Error 53 codes. The law firm also wants Apple to remove the drastic repair restriction from iOS with a software update.
“No materials we’ve seen from Apple ever show a disclosure that your phone would self-destruct if you download new software onto a phone,” PCVA wrote in the filing. “If Apple wants to kill your phone under any set of circumstances and for any reason, it has to make it crystal clear to its customers before the damage is done.”
“The error code 53 signals the death of the phone, and Apple’s response has been to say ‘you have no options; it’s not covered under warranty, and you have to buy a new phone.”
“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 last week.
“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.
Many users who have had their Touch ID repaired by an unauthorized service provider report being greeted with an “Error 53” message after restoring a saved backup or updating to the latest iOS version.
For its part, Apple vehemently argues these measures are necessary to secure and prevent tampering of sensitive fingerprint and payment data after an unauthorized repair.
“We protect fingerprint data using a Secure Enclave, which is uniquely paired to the Touch ID sensor,” an Apple spokesperson told The Guardian.
“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.”
Apple’s standard 1-year warranty for the iPhone in the United States makes it clear that the warranty does not apply to damage “caused by service (including upgrades and expansions) performed by anyone who is not a representative of Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider” or if the handset “has been modified to alter functionality or capability” without the written permission of Apple.
Do you agree with Apple’s stance on this matter?