Law Firms Consider 'Error 53' Lawsuits Against Apple as Some Stores Authorized for Repairs

iPhone6s-back-frontSeveral law firms are considering lawsuits against Apple following news that the company disables iPhone 6 models that have third-party repairs that affect Touch ID, reports The Guardian. The "Error 53" controversy started last week when news circulated about customers who have had their iPhones disabled and rendered unusable by a mysterious "error 53" message.

It turns out Apple disables the iPhones of customers who have had unauthorized repairs on their devices. As explained in a thorough post from iFixit, a repair made by a third-party service using non-original components cannot pass a Touch ID validation check because mismatched parts don't sync up properly.

According to an Apple spokesperson, when the iPhone's parts can't be properly validated because of a repair done to a component affecting the Touch ID sensor, the error message is triggered in an intentional effort to keep Touch ID and the secure enclave that stores fingerprint information safe. Damaged phones also have the potential to give the error.

"We protect fingerprint data using a secure enclave, which is uniquely paired to the touch ID sensor. When iPhone is serviced by an authorised 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."

A UK barrister told The Guardian disabling iPhones "could potentially be viewed as an offense" under the Criminal Damage Act 1971, which covers the destruction of property, and a Seattle-based law firm, PCVA said it wants to bring a class action lawsuit against Apple, calling on affected customers to get in contact. PCVA is planning to represent customers for free and has outlined the issue on its website, suggesting Apple is violating consumer laws by forcing customers to use Apple-sanctioned repair services.

We believe that Apple may be intentionally forcing users to use their repair services, which cost much more than most third party repair shops. Where you could get your screen replaced by a neighborhood repair facility for $50-80, Apple charges $129 or more. There is incentive for Apple to keep end users from finding alternative methods to fix their products.

Apple may be planning to proactively head off lawsuits and assuage customer outrage. MacRumors has heard from a retail source that certain Apple Stores have received the go ahead from Apple to replace third-party screens and other third-party components to resolve the error 53 issue. The standard out-of-warranty fee is charged for the repairs and the replacement of non-genuine parts with Apple parts is limited to those affected by the error.

It is not yet clear if all Apple Stores have been authorized to repair error 53 iPhones as Apple's only official statement is that it's a security measure required to prevent fraudulent Touch ID sensors from being installed.

Update 2/11/15: PCVA has followed through with plans to sue Apple, levying a class action suit against the company.

Top Rated Comments

TheRealTVGuy Avatar
66 months ago
I may be incorrect, but I believe that in the terms of use Apple states using unauthorized 3rd party repair shops may void your warranty and lead to unexpected results, even those rendering the device unusable.

Solution? DON'T utilize unauthorized 3rd parties!
Score: 74 Votes (Like | Disagree)
sjinsjca Avatar
66 months ago
These are security-related items that are being replaced by those from unknown vendors. A very bad idea.

Consider: your TouchID does more than just open your phone. It also authenticates ApplePay transactions, and many other apps depend on the integrity of TouchID for authentication purposes. Off the top of my head, my own phone uses TouchID authentication to open 1Password (which contains ALL my accounts and passwords), several financial and health applications, and so on. Not to mention four credit cards stored in my Wallet.

If my TouchID were compromised, I'm not entirely convinced that bricking my phone is the worst-case scenario!
Score: 41 Votes (Like | Disagree)
stopthenonsense Avatar
66 months ago
This is ludicrous. If Apple didn't protect against this vulnerability, they would be on the hook for fraudulent CC charges and probably identity theft. Protection of the secure enclave is one of the biggest selling points of iOS.
Score: 38 Votes (Like | Disagree)
djcerla Avatar
66 months ago
Alternate universe headline:

Law firms consider suing Apple after malicious third-party home buttons lead to widespread Apple Pay theft.
Score: 38 Votes (Like | Disagree)
millypede Avatar
66 months ago
Sorry, first the first time in quite a while, I am backing Apple on this one, this is stupid.
Score: 37 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MLVC Avatar
66 months ago
Ah greedy lawyers, how predictable.
Score: 33 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

microsoft edge ios android

Bill Gates Says His Preference for Android Over iPhone is Due to Pre-Installed Software

Friday February 26, 2021 3:35 am PST by
Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates this week participated in his first meeting on Clubhouse, the increasingly popular invite-only conversation app, where he fielded a range of questions as part of an ongoing book tour. Gates was interviewed by journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin, and given that the Clubhouse app is currently only available on iOS, naturally one of the questions that came up was...
Top Stories 47 Feature copy

Top Stories: MacBook Pro, iMac, and AirPods Rumors, macOS 11.2.2, MagSafe Wallet Revisited

Saturday February 27, 2021 6:00 am PST by
March is right around the corner, and that means our first good opportunity for Apple product launches in 2021 as the company frequently has significant launches in March or April each year. We're hearing rumors about MacBook Pro, iMac, AirPods, and more, although many of these will be coming out at different times over the course of the year. This week also saw a macOS update to address a ...
iphone 6 in hand

Apple Faces Another iPhone Lawsuit Over 'Programmed Obsolescence'

Monday March 1, 2021 6:44 am PST by
Apple faces a new class-action lawsuit that accuses it of deliberately releasing iOS updates that slowly reduce the performance of an iPhone, forcing customers to upgrade their devices. The lawsuit comes from the Portuguese Consumer Protection Agency, Deco Proteste (via Marketeer), which in a statement says that it will proceed with a case against the Cupertino tech giant because it...
maxresdefault

HomeKit Essentials Worth Checking Out

Saturday February 27, 2021 7:05 am PST by
HomeKit was slow to take off after its 2014 launch, but now that it's been around for seven years, there are hundreds of HomeKit products available, ranging from doorbells and speakers to TVs, lights, and cameras. In our latest YouTube video, we rounded up some of our favorite HomeKit products that we find most useful. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. HomePod...
First Look Big Sur Feature2

Apple Releases macOS Big Sur 11.2.2 to Prevent MacBooks From Being Damaged by Third-Party Non-Compliant Docks

Thursday February 25, 2021 10:07 am PST by
Apple today released macOS Big Sur 11.2.2, the fourth update to the macOS Big Sur operating system that launched in November. macOS Big Sur 11.2.2 comes two weeks after the release of macOS Big Sur 11.2.1, a bug fix update. The new ‌‌‌‌macOS Big Sur‌‌‌ 11.2.2‌ update can be downloaded for free on all eligible Macs using the Software Update section of System Preferences....
iphone 12 pro display video

iPhone 13 to Include 1TB Storage Option and LiDAR Across the Board, Says Wedbush Analyst

Monday March 1, 2021 4:00 am PST by
Apple's forthcoming iPhone 13 could include a 1TB storage option for some models and LiDAR Scanners across the entire lineup, according to a report from Wedbush analysts. In a new note to investors, seen by MacRumors, Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives said that initial Asian supply chain checks gave the firm "increased confidence" that Apple's 5G-driven product cycle would extend well into 2022,...
flat mbp 14 inch feature yellow

Redesigned 14-Inch MacBook Pro Expected to Feature Brighter Mini-LED Display With Slimmer Bezels and More

Thursday February 25, 2021 7:48 am PST by
Apple plans to unveil new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models with Mini-LED-backlit displays in the second half of this year, according to industry sources cited by Taiwanese supply chain publication DigiTimes. The report claims that Radiant Opto-Electronics will be the exclusive supplier of the Mini-LED backlight units, while Quanta Computer is said to be tasked with final assembly of the...
mac mini developer transition kit photo feature

Apple Requiring Developers to Return DTK Mac Minis by March 31

Friday February 26, 2021 3:57 pm PST by
Apple today sent out emails to developers who are in possession of a Developer Transition Kit, asking them to return the machines by March 31. The Developer Transition Kits are Mac minis with A12Z chips that Apple provided for development purposes ahead of the release of the M1 Macs. Apple in the emails provided developers with shipping instructions, and plans to begin collecting the DTKs...
iphone 12 120hz thumbnail feature

Kuo: iPhone 13 Lineup to Feature Smaller Notch and Larger Batteries, 120Hz Display for Pro Models, and More

Monday March 1, 2021 7:50 am PST by
iPhone 13 models will all feature a smaller notch, while the two Pro models will be equipped with low-power LTPO display technology for a 120Hz refresh rate, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said today in a research note obtained by MacRumors. Several other sources have previously claimed that some iPhone 13 models will support a 120Hz refresh rate, including display industry analyst Ross Young, leakers ...
unc0ver version 6 release

Jailbreak Tool 'unc0ver' 6.0.0 Released With iOS 14.3 Compatibility

Sunday February 28, 2021 9:26 am PST by
The team behind the "unc0ver" jailbreaking tool for iOS has released version 6.0.0 of its software, which can allegedly be used to jailbreak any device running iOS 11.0 through iOS 14.3 using a kernel vulnerability. The unc0ver website describes how the tool has been extensively tested across a range of iOS devices running various software versions, including an iPhone 12 Pro Max running iOS ...