Apple Is Already Being Sued Over The 'Error 53' Issue

Apple's Already Being Sued Over the 'Error 53' Issue

Find any problem with an Apple device, and sure as carrion crows will rip the still-beating heart from a carcass, class action lawyers will assemble. So it goes with Error 53, the latest (non) issue to befall Cupertino. A quick refresher: some users had been replacing the home buttons on their iPhones, which on a more modern handset, means replacing the fingerprint sensor. From iOS 9 onwards, Apple's software interprets any unauthorised (read: not performed by an Apple Store) change to the security hardware as an attempted hack, and bricks the phone, giving an "Error 53".

It's mostly a non-issue, affecting only users who took their iPhones to dodgy third-party repair services for a broken screen — those technicians would replace the screen and the TouchID sensor entirely, causing the phone to give the error.

But that hasn't stopped law firm PCVA from filing suit in the Northern District of California, looking for $US5 million in damages, free repairs for customers and a software update to fix the problem long-term. In a press release, PVCA said:

If security was the primary concern, then why did the phones work just fine, sometimes for several months, without the software update...Error 53 only rears its ugly head when downloading a newer version of Apple's operating system.

PVCA does have a tiny point that Apple should have notified users in advance of the change; the more likely option, though, is that Apple didn't appreciate that making its devices more secure would have the unintended consequence (for a tiny minority!) of bricking their devices. Ultimately, you get what you pay for with non-approved, out-of-warranty repairs; sometimes, that's a bricked phone, and if you're affected, you're probably much better off spending your time moving to a new handset than jumping on a doomed lawsuit.

[PVCA, 9to5Mac]


Comments

    How can you call this a "non-issue"?? Every personhas the right to repair their phone with who they choose! Why does everyonw who owns an apple phone need to be locked into apple or its suppliers who can inflate repair costs then?

    I cant believe the journalists comments to this, just buy a new handset and skip the lawsuit? Do you think everyone can afford a new phone at the drop of a hat? Why do you think they used 3rd party repairs - to save money!

      This is a little more nuanced than that. Fake/counterfeit parts are already a huge problem with Chinese manufacturing and can lead to all kinds of safety issues at a purely electronic level. Combine that with the ermerging threat of malicious parts intentionally designed to circumvent software security and you can see why authentication of hardware components is becoming a thing. Apples response has been disappointing and the lack of warnings also disappointing. But the core of what they are doing, detecting unauthorised components is unfortunately the future of electronics design.

      DatHusky: It's a non-issue in relation to your first claim that this infringes on an individual's "right to repair the phone with who they choose".

      Of course you can *choose* to have your phone repaired by Apple, Telstra, your neighbour, a vendor in a shopping centre, or a homeless vagrant with a hammer.

      And if the *repairer* causes your phone to be bricked, the fault - and your line of recourse - lies with the repairer.

      I've had iPhone screens replaced by non-Apple repairers who were aware of this issue years ago. I Googled, became informed and discussed it with them before I handed over my phone or money. They made sure they either moved the home button, or re-paired the replacement one with the iPhone.

      Please read, research and understand the issues before making unsubstantiated claims of what Apple, journalists or anyone else is saying and/or is responsible for.

      If you brick your device because you didn't do *your* homework, it's your fault.

        If you brick your device because you didn't do *your* homework, it's your fault.

        uhh that is a pretty terrible attitude to have really.
        By your logic, if I was wrongly accused of murder and sentenced to 25 years jail because of the incompetence of my lawyer... it's my fault because I don't have a law degree riiiiight...

        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~

        Also, why do they brick your phone brick because of a change of hardware! They could have just disabled any features that would be compromised (Android does this in certain situations I believe).

          By your logic, if I was wrongly accused of murder and sentenced to 25 years jail because of the incompetence of my lawyer... it's my fault because I don't have a law degree riiiiight...

          Nothing like it at all, unless you chose a tax lawyer, knowing that murder defence was not something they knew about, yet alone specialised in.

          I do agree with you that bricking was not ideal, and Touch ID could just have been disabled. Regardless, take it back to the repairer (or a better repairer!).

        This is bullshit, obviously, since the affected phones were bricked AFTER the last update was installed. They had been repaired quite a while BEFORE that.
        They were supposed to do their homework while being a time traveller.?
        Two other things:
        1. In many countries Apple stores and Apple certified repairers do not exist, even in countries where there are some they may not be in every town or city- those people will likely need their phones right away and can't afford to send them away for weeks at a time. What are they supposed to do?
        2. Phones that were just busted and not repaired because they still work are also being bricked.

        The contention that it's a non-issue or Apple is not at fault in this case is moronic.
        Apple make great products, but sometimes, as in this case, their design choices are very poorly thought out.

        Last edited 13/02/16 5:01 pm

          This is bullshit, obviously, since the affected phones were bricked AFTER the last update was installed. They had been repaired quite a while BEFORE that.

          I was aware of the potential of the phone bricking 2 years ago when my wife cracked her iPhone 5S. The bricking was a possibility then - the iOS update just forced the issue.

          In many countries Apple stores and Apple certified repairers do not exist, even in countries where there are some they may not be in every town or city- those people will likely need their phones right away and can't afford to send them away for weeks at a time. What are they supposed to do?

          If you own a unique device in a country where there is no support (for example, people in Aus with imported US or Euro vehicles with no local dealers) then you will have unique support needs, and issues with repairs. That's just common sense.

          Phones that were just busted and not repaired because they still work are also being bricked So take 'em to Apple or a repairer who knows what they are doing …

          The contention that it's a non-issue or Apple is not at fault in this case is moronic. I agree (I only said 'the right to repair the phone with who (you) choose' is a non-issue), and Apple is at fault for allowing the phone to be bricked instead of just disabling Touch ID (there's evidence that this was not by design, just poor implementation - as you said 'poorly thought out').

    I wouldn't be so sure the lawsuit is doomed. They do kind of have a point - it's not up to Apple to render the owner's hardware useless or dictate what the owner can do with it. Even if the situation has only arisen out of good intentions.

    "It's mostly a non issue - people who took their phones to dodgy repairers" what a load of tripe Chris! Just like car servicing people should have a choice of repairer for their iPhone. It's not dodgy repairers at all, it's any repairer that's not Apple. Apple need to be stood up to on this occasion, or EVERYONE will be paying more for their mobile phone repairs going forward.

    To brick someone's device in some cases months after a perfectly good 3rd party repair is cruel. Gizmondo should be standing up for the rights of the customer and encouraging competition in repairs.

      Regarding car repairers if they were to repair the electronics in certain cars without the approved software and hardware writes and certs they could fail to initalise and then fail to work unless they had their own workaround which circumvented the protection which would fall outside the T&C's and software license which would make it the repairers fault for not knowing and not being certified to make the repairs with competence.

    The accc now has apple in their sights over this as well as I've read in the papers this morning.

    If its an out of warranty repair and the 3rd party repair worked until the update, it's clearly a case of Apple overstepping their perceived duty. They do not have any control outside of warranty period but to write code that detects a 3rd parts is going too far. I think this falls under the US Antitrust laws and I think the author of this article should stick to his crayons and butcher paper. Leave the legal stuff well alone.

    Is this like it was a "non-issue" and only the fault of dodgy third parties when Apple chargers were causing damage and injuries?
    Being a tech reporter is about a lot more than white knighting for your favourite brands.

    it's hard to understand how this can possibly be just security.

    Couldn't they simply disabled touch id if the sensor has changed?

    Wouldn't be surprised if a software update fixed this. I do understand that the comns between the sensor and the mcu need to be cryptographically secure to avoid easy hardware sniffing, but it shouldn't prevent the whole system from working.

    I just got the error 53 message trying to update my iPhone 6. I had the screen replaced at the apple store robina qld about a month ago. Did not and never have had a third party do anything to the phone. I'm taking to back to robina apple store tomorrow- see what they say or do about this. To suggest this is a non issue is ridiculous. Chris Mills, you must be incredibly naive.

    interesting ! I was not aware apple stores did "repairs" as such, just on the spot swaps for a reconditioned or new phone. Did they do a swap ? If so looks like there might be reconditioned phones that have the issue in apple system ...

      I booked a time at Genius Bar. Took it in. Came back an hour later. New glass cost $159. Now error 53. All apple's doing. I'm about to take it back- let's see what happens!

        Well, I'm pleased to say the apple shop at robina decided to give me a new phone- no problem. They didn't really want to discuss error 53 but i guess they had to accept they were responsible one way or another.

    Everyone is up and arms but if people in Australian as that's where we are only when to first-party repairers such as Apple, or Nextbyte as an example there would not be any issues. Now for people who do not live anywhere near these places such as in the middle of nowhere(how does you iPhone have signal?) you can send them in, now you're thinking "I need my phone the same DAY!", well IF you're phone is that vital are you seriously trying to say you don't have a redundancy. You're probably thinking, Well I should be able to get it repaired where I want, that cool but what if you completely shattered it beyond repair or lost. You're going to be without a phone anyway. Also people forget that getting it repaired at places that don't bother to become an official repairer voids the warranty as well because they don't use genuine parts which also leads to other faults.

    This of course is anecdotal experience that I see day in day out working in Telco for the past 10 years.

    Anyone know how many phones have actually been affected?
    Is this just another bendgate, where roughly six phones worldwide gets reported like it was the end of days?

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