Apple has always been very keep of making its mobile operating system a secure one and the fruit company has its own way of doing so, even if it involves bricking the devices. A recently reported error 53 is one such example which Apple claims to be a security measure but it effectively bricks or disables iPhones with Touch ID repairs done by a third party repair center. The controversy went so viral that it is now attracting the attention of top law firms, which are reportedly considering taking Apple to court over consumer’s devices being rendered useless, reports The Guardian.
The infamous cryptic message “Error 53” appears when a user installs iOS 9 on an iPhone 6 or later device with unauthorized repairs done to the Home button of the device. Once the error appears during iTunes restore to iOS 9 software update, the connected iPhone is as good as a brick and there is no known way to bring it back to life. The said is said to be the result of unauthorized parts (the home button) installed by a 3rd party repairer.
The error 53 report spread like a fire in the jungle forcing Apple to make an official statement on the issue. Apple acknowledged that error 53 is intentional and it is to provide more security to users. The company said that the Touch ID data is stored on a special chip on the device’s board and when the Home button (which contains the Touch ID) is replaced by a 3rd-party with unofficial components, a verification check that verifies authorized components only, fails and throughs error 53. There is no way to get rid of this error and users are forced to get a new device from Apple.
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.
Lawyers point out that Apple’s reckless policy of bricking iPhones over 3rd party repairs, which in fact costs way less than Apple’s official repair service, could be viewed as an offense under the Criminal Damage Act 1971, which sanctions intentionally destroying one’s property.
PVCA – a Seattle-based law firm – is calling out to all the users affected by the error 53 to get in touch because the law firm wants to turn it into a class-action lawsuit against Apple because of this particular error. The firm believes that the fruit company is violating consumer laws by essentially forcing them to opt for Apple’s official repair services, and disabling the devices that get repairs from third party repair centers.
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.
A class-action lawsuit does not come as a surprise, given how widespread the issue has become in last few weeks. Are you one of those affected by iTunes error 53? Do you think Apple should be brought to court over this device bricking error? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
This result is not all that surprising, considering how widely the reports have become since first cropping up. If you’ve suffered this error, do you think Apple should face a class-action lawsuit?