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
56 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
56 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
56 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
56 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
56 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
56 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

iOS 14 on iPhone feature emergency

Apple Releases iOS and iPadOS 14.7.1 With Fix for Touch ID Apple Watch Bug

Monday July 26, 2021 9:48 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS and iPadOS 14.7.1, minor bug fix updates that come just a week after the release of iOS 14.7, software that introduced new Apple Card features and support for the MagSafe Battery Pack. The iOS and iPadOS 14.7.1 updates can be downloaded for free and the software is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access the new software, go to...
iPad mini pro feature 2

iPad Mini 6 to Feature 8.3-Inch Display With No Home Button and Narrower Bezels

Monday July 26, 2021 12:26 pm PDT by
The sixth-generation iPad mini that's in the works will have an 8.3-inch display, according to display analyst Ross Young. That will be larger than the current 7.9-inch display, with the larger size due to the removal of the Home button and a narrower bezel design. Rumors about the iPad mini 6 have been picking up in recent weeks ahead of its prospective launch this fall. Apple analyst...
iphone 12 pro gold

Report: iPhone 14 Pro Models to Feature Tough Titanium Alloy Chassis

Monday July 26, 2021 1:12 am PDT by
Next year's "iPhone 14" series is expected to feature high-end models with a new titanium alloy chassis design, claims a new investors report by JP Morgan Chase. According to the report, the use of titanium alloy will be one of the biggest changes to the case design in the 2022 iPhone series, and Foxconn will be the exclusive manufacturer of the titanium frames for the high-end models....
nothing ear 1 buds 1

Nothing 'Ear (1)' True Wireless Earbuds Launch to Take on AirPods Pro With ANC and Unusual Design for $99

Tuesday July 27, 2021 7:57 am PDT by
Nothing, a new brand from OnePlus founder Carl Pei, has today officially launched the "Ear (1)" true wireless earbuds after months of anticipation around the company's AirPods Pro rival. The Ear (1) features an in-ear design, Active Noise Cancelation, Bluetooth 5.2, IPX4 water resistance, and a charging case with Qi-compatible wireless charging and a USB-C port. Fast pairing is supported on...
apple mac business page

Apple Shares 11 Reasons Why Business Users Should Choose Macs

Monday July 26, 2021 11:35 am PDT by
Apple today updated its Apple at Work website with a new section dedicated to the Mac, which offers up 11 reasons why "Mac means business." On the webpage, Apple highlights the M1 chip as the number one reason why business users should choose a Mac, offering up an M1 overview [PDF] that explains the benefits of the M1 chip. The information isn't new, but it does provide a look at all of...
imac with accessories

Larger Redesigned High-End iMac Rumored to Launch Next Year

Monday July 26, 2021 3:45 am PDT by
Apple's larger redesigned iMac will arrive sometime in 2022 rather than later this year, according to the leaker known as "Dylandkt." On Twitter, Dylandkt claimed that Apple's "high end iMac" is not expected to release in the fourth quarter of 2021 alongside Apple's "M1X Macs" – a reference to Apple's redesigned MacBook Pro models – because "Apple simply does not want their devices to...
General iOS 14

iOS 14.7.1 and macOS Big Sur 11.5.1 Patch Security Vulnerability That May Have Been Actively Exploited

Monday July 26, 2021 11:55 am PDT by
Apple today released unexpected iOS 14.7.1 and iPadOS 14.7.1 updates to the public, and according to a newly released support document, the software addresses a serious security vulnerability that may have been exploited in the wild. Apple says that an application may have been able to execute arbitrary code with kernel privileges due to a memory corruption issue. "Apple is aware of a report ...
apple bitcoin hack

Is Apple Really Buying Bitcoin?

Monday July 26, 2021 3:07 am PDT by
A large number of websites and posts on social media are stoking rumors that Apple has purchased $2.5 billion worth of bitcoin in the company's first move into cryptocurrency, but is there any validity to the claims? Many people are citing the fact that Apple was looking for a Business Development Manager with experience in alternative payments, including cryptocurrency, earlier this year as ...
tesla red orange bg feature

Tesla CEO Elon Musk Takes Shots at Apple During Earnings Call

Monday July 26, 2021 4:53 pm PDT by
During a Tesla earnings call that took place today, Tesla CEO Elon Musk spent time sniping at Apple, reports CNBC. Musk criticized Apple's "walled garden" and made comments on the company's cobalt use. In a discussion about plans to allow Tesla competitors to use the Tesla electric vehicle charger network, Musk said that Tesla does not want to create a walled garden to "bludgeon" Tesla...
FaceID iMac REREREREMIX

Gurman: Face ID on the Mac Coming Within a 'Couple of Years'

Sunday July 25, 2021 7:09 am PDT by
Apple plans to bring Face ID to the Mac within the next "couple of years," respected Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman said today in the latest edition of his Power On newsletter. In the newsletter, Gurman says that he believes Apple's ultimate goal is to shift all of its products to Face ID, including the lower-end iPhones such as the iPhone SE and the iPad Air, which feature Touch ID....