Australian Consumer Regulator Sues Apple Over 'Error 53' iPhone Shutdowns

iPhone 6 Touch IDThe Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has filed a lawsuit against Apple alleging that it violated Australian consumer law when a software update it issued last year bricked some users' iPhones.

The lawsuit relates to the infamous "error 53" message reported back in February 2016 that began greeting some users after they updated their devices. It later emerged that the devices bricked by the message had been repaired by third-party technicians.

Apple initially said the message was a protective security feature designed to protect consumers' devices from the installation of fraudulent Touch ID components, but later admitted the error was a mistake and apologized for it, offering instructions online explaining how to fix affected devices.

The Australian regulator that filed the federal lawsuit is seeking financial penalties from Apple. Penalties of up to A$1.1million ($829,000) per breach could be assessed, according to The Wall Street Journal, but it would be up to the court to define how many breaches occurred. Apple has yet to respond to request for comment.

Rod Sims, chairman of the ACCC, said the lawsuit challenges Apple's entire policy of requiring customers to pay for repairs to defective components if their device was previously serviced by a third party.

"It's fair to say we haven't observed similar behavior by other manufacturers," Mr. Sims said in an interview, adding that it is often cheaper for customers to seek repairs from third-party shops. "Apple seems to have a particular way of doing things."

Australian Consumer Law requires that when a product is purchased, there's a guarantee that it will be "reasonably fit" for its intended purpose. As the ACCC sees it, the error 53 message rendered customers' iPhones and iPads unusable, therefore they should be entitled to a remedy from Apple under the law.

Apple faced a class action lawsuit in the U.S. over the error message last year, after some users accused it of false advertising and complained of data loss. Apple reimbursed the affected customers with working devices, and the company's motion to dismiss the case was successful after a district judge ruled that plaintiffs lacked evidence to back up their claims.

Top Rated Comments

WarDialer Avatar
49 months ago
The problem happened when people got their phone fixed by a third-party, not Apple, and a software check detected the third-party part and was rightfully suspicious since the phone hardware and its fingerprint sensor (used for Apple Pay e.g. access to your bank account) was not an expected part/ID/config whatever.

QUICK SUE THE BIGGEST COMPANY ON THE PLANET FOR TRYING TO BE CAUTIOUS, they can afford it right?

Apple is *the* most sued company on earth. Good job Australia, all other problems must be solved in your country to be suing Apple over a SOFTWARE doodad that was fixed to make people stop bitching their hacked up phones were popping a dialog.
Score: 24 Votes (Like | Disagree)
fermat-au Avatar
49 months ago
I am proud to live in a country that will stand up for consumers against the largest corporations on Earth.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Brian Y Avatar
49 months ago

I am proud to live in a country that will stand up for consumers against the largest corporations on Earth.

Here in the UK we have some of the best consumer protection laws on the planet - but I'm sorry, I'm partly with Apple on this one.

Killing the phones completely was probably a mistake (I'm going to hazard a guess that they forgot to remove a check in an iOS build and accidentally bricked them) - but I do not want third party fingerprint sensors to work. This makes the whole thing far less secure.
Score: 17 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Defender2010 Avatar
49 months ago
I side with Apple. If you use 3rd party you may as well fix it yourself. You reap what you sow.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
WatchFromAfar Avatar
49 months ago

Good job Australia, all other problems must be solved in your country to be suing Apple over a SOFTWARE doodad that was fixed to make people stop bitching their hacked up phones were popping a dialog.

While you make good points I have to feel you're being a little disingenuous. There is a world of difference between "popping a dialog" and leaving you with a non-functional device which you have not only paid for originally but also paid again to have it repaired.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
fermat-au Avatar
49 months ago

Or maybe not so much for customers but rather filling up the pockets of lawyers and bunch of other people. Silly, lol.

The ACCC is an independent authority of the Australian government. This is not about making money for lawyers. This is about protecting the rights of consumer.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

cook cbs this morning

CBS This Morning: Apple to Make 'Big Announcement' Tomorrow Morning

Tuesday January 12, 2021 8:46 am PST by
CBS This Morning today shared a short clip of an upcoming interview with Apple CEO Tim Cook in which addressing last week's events at the U.S. Capitol, with Cook saying "it's key that people be held accountable for it." Following the clip, Gayle King of CBS noted that the interview with Cook was not specifically arranged to address the current controversy over Parler and other repercussions, ...
ipad pro 2021 mysmartprice cad

Allegedly Leaked 2021 iPad Pro CAD Images Suggest Few Design Changes

Tuesday January 12, 2021 3:38 am PST by
Tech blogs 91mobile and MySmartPrice on Tuesday posted a series of allegedly leaked factory CAD images of Apple's upcoming fifth-generation 11-inch iPad Pro. Rumors suggest Apple plans to announce two new iPad Pro models in both 11-inch and 12.9-inch versions, and today's images offer perhaps the clearest indication yet that Apple's next-generation iPad Pros will have minimal, if any,...
prototype iphone 12 pro

Prototype iPhone 12 Pro Shown Off in Photos

Wednesday January 13, 2021 3:39 pm PST by
Developer Giulio Zompetti, who often shows off prototype versions of Apple devices, today highlighted a prototype version of the iPhone 12 Pro. The iPhone 12 Pro is running an operating system called SwitchBoard, a nonUI version of the iOS 14 update that Apple uses internally. We've seen SwitchBoard on prototype devices before, as Apple uses it to test new features. Zompetti's prototype...
find my app safari post

Safari Allows Users to Enable Hidden 'Items' Tab in 'Find My' App Ahead of AirTags Launch

Wednesday January 13, 2021 5:45 am PST by
As seen in screenshots obtained by MacRumors in 2019, Apple's long-rumored AirTags items trackers are expected to be managed through the Find My app on iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Now, any user can get an early look at this tab. MacRumors reader David Chu today alerted us that the hidden "Items" tab in the Find My app can be enabled on an iPhone or iPad by typing in the link findmy://items in...
iphone x camera close

iOS 14.4 Will Introduce Warning on iPhones With Non-Genuine Cameras

Thursday January 14, 2021 8:07 am PST by
In the second beta of iOS 14.4 seeded to developers and public testers this week, MacRumors contributor Steve Moser has discovered code indicating that Apple will be introducing a new warning on iPhones that have had their camera repaired or replaced with aftermarket components rather than genuine Apple components. "Unable to verify this iPhone has a genuine Apple camera," the message will...
mac anti reflective coating issue

Apple's Anti-Reflective Coating Repair Program Still in Effect for Some MacBooks With New Mail-In Policy

Tuesday January 12, 2021 10:07 am PST by
In an internal memo obtained by MacRumors, Apple recently informed its network of Apple Authorized Service Providers that mail-in repair is now required for Mac notebooks with anti-reflective coating issues in the United States. The new policy went into effect January 4, 2021 and means that customers who take an eligible 12-inch MacBook or MacBook Pro exhibiting this issue to an Apple...
pioneer carplay wc5700nex

The Best Apple-Related Accessories at CES 2021

Wednesday January 13, 2021 1:16 pm PST by
CES 2021 is taking place digitally this year, and it hasn't been as exciting as in past years because many vendors have opted out. That said, some companies are still showing off some interesting Apple-related accessories that are coming out this year and that will be of interest to Mac, iPad, and iPhone users. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Pioneer Wireless...
Hue module dimmer switch

Philips Hue Announces New Wall Switch Module, Dimmer Switch, and Outdoor Light Bar

Thursday January 14, 2021 3:11 am PST by
Philips Hue has announced a new wireless dimmer switch module that lets Hue bridge owners directly control the smart lighting from their standard wall switches. The new Philips Hue wall switch module is the ideal addition to any Philips Hue set up. Installed behind existing light switches, it allows users to turn their existing switch into a smart switch and ensures their smart lighting is...
whatsapp wallpapers 1

WhatsApp Affirms User Privacy Following Backlash Over Data Sharing With Facebook

Tuesday January 12, 2021 6:39 am PST by
Following backlash after changing its terms and privacy policy to consolidate a significant amount of data sharing with Facebook, WhatsApp is now assuring users about the privacy measures built into its app. Last week, WhatsApp began informing users of updates to the app's terms of service and privacy policy. The updated agreements, which users must consent to in order to continue using...
apple racial equity justice initiative propel center render 01132021

Apple Launches New Nationwide Racial Equity and Justice Initiative Projects

Wednesday January 13, 2021 4:08 am PST by
Apple today announced a set of new projects as part of its $100 million Racial Equity and Justice Initiative (REJI) to help dismantle systemic barriers to opportunity and combat injustices faced by communities of color. Rendering of the Propel Center The projects include the Propel Center, a global innovation and learning hub for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), an Apple ...