Apple slapped with class action suit over Touch ID-related 'Error 53' code

Posted:
in General Discussion edited February 2016
Seattle-based law firm PCVA has decided to move forward with a class action lawsuit related to Apple's hardware repair practices, specifically targeting the "Error 53" code issue that renders iPhone unusable following an unauthorized Touch ID fingerprint sensor install.




Filed with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, the pending suit alleges Apple has "gone too far" in its attempts to control the iPhone hardware platform, saying the "Error 53" message some users are seeing as a result of unauthorized repairs warrants redress.

Error 53 codes affect iPhone 6 and 6s handsets that have undergone Touch ID module -- or in some cases screen, flex cable and water-damaged component -- replacement by a repair firm operating outside of Apple's Authorized Service Provider network. Most users see the message after restoring a saved backup or updating to the latest iOS version.

In addition to being rendered unusable, iPhones showing Error 53 messages repaired through an unofficial dealer are no longer covered under Apple's warranty as they were, in effect, tampered with by an outside party.

Users have reported Error 53 codes from at least early 2015, but it wasn't until recently that the issue gained public notoriety. A media report last week suggested Apple was not only aware of the error message, but had software safeguards in place that "bricked" affected units to satisfy standard iOS security measures.

"We protect fingerprint data using a secure enclave, which is uniquely paired to the Touch ID sensor," an Apple representative said. "When iOS detects that the pairing fails, Touch ID, including Apple Pay, is disabled so the device remains secure."

For its part, Apple is attempting to protect highly sensitive biometric user data gathered by Touch ID and its supporting circuitry. By distributing certified parts through authorized repair agents Apple can control against potential security breaches built into unchecked parts.

The lawsuit rekindles an ongoing "right to repair" argument that has long plagued Apple. The company has in may cases made it nearly impossible for users to open, let alone repair, a device on their own. From generous application of adhesives to the introduction of proprietary pentalobe screws, Apple engineers its devices to thwart unauthorized repair efforts. Apple claims such steps are required to ensure its devices work as designed, allowing for a consistent user experience.

On behalf of its clients, PCVA seeks at least $5 million in damages and restitution for users affected by Error 53 codes, as well as the release of a software update that removes the imposed repair restriction from iOS.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 72
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 6,106member
    I hope Apple not only fights this lawsuit all the way to the end, but then turn right around and sue the ambulance-chasing lawfirm into oblivion.

    They are going to bank on the ignorance of users and obfuscate the necessity of the security implementation (basically LIE) to make a case against Apple.

    If you're going to turn this around and debate with me why you should be allowed to take your iPhone to "Mr. Dark Alley" to replace a key security component because you feel that $10 sketchy repair is a much better deal than whatever Apple charges to get it fixed properly, then don't bother discussing it with me.

    You think the iPhone's security is too high for you?  Go with Android.  
    edited February 2016 ericthehalfbeemwhitechialolliverjbishop1039lord amhranksecmaxitmagman1979jbdragon
  • Reply 2 of 72
    Good luck, dummies. You'll need it.
    edited February 2016 lollivercornchip
  • Reply 3 of 72
    I am willing to bet at least half the people who contacted this shyster law firm to get in on the claim are android fanbois who don't even own an iPhone and will be tossed when verification is required to continue.
    magman1979cornchip
  • Reply 4 of 72
    Can't wait to see the judge call these lawyers incompetent.
    magman1979
  • Reply 5 of 72
    Why not sue the feckless "repair agent" instead? I mean, it's their ignorance, not Apple's.

    ("Mr. Dark Alley"... love it)

    lolliver
  • Reply 6 of 72
    Dumbasses.

    Did either the idiots at the law firm or their alleged clients read Apple's Warranty information? It's pretty clear about what is and isn't allowed (bolded emphasis mine). 

    This Warranty does not apply: (a) to consumable parts, such as batteries or protective coatings that are designed to diminish over time, unless failure has occurred due to a defect in materials or workmanship; (b) to cosmetic damage, including but not limited to scratches, dents and broken plastic on ports unless failure has occurred due to a defect in materials or workmanship; (c) to damage caused by use with a third party component or product that does not meet the Apple Product’s specifications (Apple Product specifications are available at www.apple.com under the technical specifications for each product and also available in stores); (d) to damage caused by accident, abuse, misuse, fire, earthquake or other external cause; (e) to damage caused by operating the Apple Product outside Apple’s published guidelines; (f) to damage caused by service (including upgrades and expansions) performed by anyone who is not a representative of Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider (“AASP”); (g) to an Apple Product that has been modified to alter functionality or capability without the written permission of Apple; (h) to defects caused by normal wear and tear or otherwise due to the normal aging of the Apple Product; (i) if any serial number has been removed or defaced from the Apple Product; or (j) if Apple receives information from relevant public authorities that the product has been stolen or if you are unable to deactivate passcode-enabled or other security measures designed to prevent unauthorized access to the Apple Product, and you cannot prove in any way that you are the authorized user of the product (eg. by presenting proof of purchase).

    http://www.apple.com/legal/warranty/products/ios-warranty-document-us.html

    lolliverjbishop1039ericthehalfbeemagman1979jbdragonidreycornchip
  • Reply 7 of 72
    Because deep pockets.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 8 of 72
    msanttimsantti Posts: 1,377member
    Lawyers win.
  • Reply 9 of 72
    Applecare + is a real bargain compared to dealing with an issue like this. 
    lolliverargonaut
  • Reply 10 of 72
    Alright on the iPhone 6 as well as the iPhone 5S, or any apple device with touch ID this happens because of damage to the home button or the cable leading to the home button. Let use the iPhone 6 for this example, as its the most common. The iPhone 6 has a flex cable that runs behind the screen to the the home button,nandbthe home button connects to it through two FPC connectors. the most common way to damage this is by damaging the back flex, which is EXTREMELY LIKE VERY VERY VERY easy to mess up. What this means? That anyone who doesn't know what they're doing can damage that connection and render touch ID as not working. The cable can be replaced and is very easy to do, and any shop worth its salt has several on hand, because anyone can make a slip and mess one up. Checking touch ID is a crucial step, after the repair, and should be done no matter what. Its not faulty screens, its that one cable or the home button or where it plugs into on the phone. Its entirely the fault of someone who doesn't know what they're doing. If a device comes in it should be tested before and after the Repair to MAKE SURE that everything is working, mainly touch id. Any questions? I'm a professional technician at a third party repair store, I've repaired over a hundred iPhone 6's.
    edited February 2016
  • Reply 11 of 72
    radarthekatradarthekat Posts: 3,867moderator
    I've gotta believe Apple isn't supplying those replacement TouchID modules to unauthorized servicers, so where exactly are they getting them?  The answer to this, by itself, should get this lawsuit tossed.  These guys are putting unauthorized (unofficial) parts into iPhones that they aren't even authorized to service in the first place.  The fact the parts work with the phone at all shouldn't be germane.  It's an anauthorized part that Apple has no obligation to ensure continues to function through OS updates.  

    Further, since the part is a component of a larger subsystem of the iPhone (the security enclave), any replacement should be fully compatible with that larger subsystem, which would include being paired with it as Apple designed.  So it would seem to me that the unauthorized servicer sold these folks a service that did not meet the original design of the iPhone as each replaced Touch ID unit was not paired with the security enclave as Apple would have done had it replaced the part or as an Apple authorized servicer would have done.  

    Apple should be able to modify its OS from one version to the next in any way it sees fit as long as those changes don't cause problems for iPhones they claim will support the updated OS version.  And that includes changes that newly rely upon a pairing between Touch ID and its security enclave, as long as Apple has produced iPhones that have this pairing, and as long as Apple ensures that repaired iPhone continue to have this pairing.  To suggest otherwise is to say that Apple should be held back and constrained in enhancing aspects of its products in order to accommodate modifications made by unauthorized servicers, or folks hacking away at their iPhones at home, for that matter.  This would soon derail any attempts at Apple's famous tight integration between hardware and software that has allowed the company to deliver such a trouble-free, secure, and well-performing line of products.  It's just a preposterous lawsuit.
    edited February 2016 lolliver
  • Reply 12 of 72
    Next class actions in pipeline :
    1. not being able to extract data after loosing a pass code.
    2. phone does not work any longer after dropping into toilet bowl
    3. ...
    jbdragon
  • Reply 13 of 72
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 6,106member
    Dumbasses.

    Did either the idiots at the law firm or their alleged clients read Apple's Warranty information? It's pretty clear about what is and isn't allowed (bolded emphasis mine). 

    This Warranty does not apply: (a) to consumable parts, such as batteries or protective coatings that are designed to diminish over time, unless failure has occurred due to a defect in materials or workmanship; (b) to cosmetic damage, including but not limited to scratches, dents and broken plastic on ports unless failure has occurred due to a defect in materials or workmanship; (c) to damage caused by use with a third party component or product that does not meet the Apple Product’s specifications (Apple Product specifications are available at www.apple.com under the technical specifications for each product and also available in stores); (d) to damage caused by accident, abuse, misuse, fire, earthquake or other external cause; (e) to damage caused by operating the Apple Product outside Apple’s published guidelines; (f) to damage caused by service (including upgrades and expansions) performed by anyone who is not a representative of Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider (“AASP”); (g) to an Apple Product that has been modified to alter functionality or capability without the written permission of Apple; (h) to defects caused by normal wear and tear or otherwise due to the normal aging of the Apple Product; (i) if any serial number has been removed or defaced from the Apple Product; or (j) if Apple receives information from relevant public authorities that the product has been stolen or if you are unable to deactivate passcode-enabled or other security measures designed to prevent unauthorized access to the Apple Product, and you cannot prove in any way that you are the authorized user of the product (eg. by presenting proof of purchase).

    http://www.apple.com/legal/warranty/products/ios-warranty-document-us.html

    Stupid, idiotic Darwin-candidates couldn't care any less about the TOS.  I've lost track already of the number of whiners complaining "but..but..but.. it's my phone, therefore I should be allowed to take it to anyone of my choosing to repair it."

    I would write more about that, but in the end... it doesn't matter since it's not like their mentality will suddenly evolve to include common-sense.
    magman1979
  • Reply 14 of 72
    If Apple expects to sell automobiles which have similar "security" features, so that only authorized repair shops can do engine work, reset computers and sensors, maybe even top off the wiper fluid.... they won't be selling any such cars to me.  #GetMeThatSamsungCar
  • Reply 15 of 72
    Dumbasses.

    Did either the idiots at the law firm or their alleged clients read Apple's Warranty information? It's pretty clear about what is and isn't allowed (bolded emphasis mine). 

    This Warranty does not apply: (a) to consumable parts, such as batteries or protective coatings that are designed to diminish over time, unless failure has occurred due to a defect in materials or workmanship; (b) to cosmetic damage, including but not limited to scratches, dents and broken plastic on ports unless failure has occurred due to a defect in materials or workmanship; (c) to damage caused by use with a third party component or product that does not meet the Apple Product’s specifications (Apple Product specifications are available at www.apple.com under the technical specifications for each product and also available in stores); (d) to damage caused by accident, abuse, misuse, fire, earthquake or other external cause; (e) to damage caused by operating the Apple Product outside Apple’s published guidelines; (f) to damage caused by service (including upgrades and expansions) performed by anyone who is not a representative of Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider (“AASP”); (g) to an Apple Product that has been modified to alter functionality or capability without the written permission of Apple; (h) to defects caused by normal wear and tear or otherwise due to the normal aging of the Apple Product; (i) if any serial number has been removed or defaced from the Apple Product; or (j) if Apple receives information from relevant public authorities that the product has been stolen or if you are unable to deactivate passcode-enabled or other security measures designed to prevent unauthorized access to the Apple Product, and you cannot prove in any way that you are the authorized user of the product (eg. by presenting proof of purchase).

    http://www.apple.com/legal/warranty/products/ios-warranty-document-us.html

    Did you read the same warranty document's opening paragraphs?

    HOW CONSUMER LAW RELATES TO THIS WARRANTY

    THIS WARRANTY GIVES YOU SPECIFIC LEGAL RIGHTS, AND YOU MAY HAVE OTHER RIGHTS THAT VARY FROM STATE TO STATE (OR BY COUNTRY OR PROVINCE). OTHER THAN AS PERMITTED BY LAW, APPLE DOES NOT EXCLUDE, LIMIT OR SUSPEND OTHER RIGHTS YOU MAY HAVE, INCLUDING THOSE THAT MAY ARISE FROM THE NONCONFORMITY OF A SALES CONTRACT. FOR A FULL UNDERSTANDING OF YOUR RIGHTS YOU SHOULD CONSULT THE LAWS OF YOUR COUNTRY, PROVINCE OR STATE.

    WARRANTY LIMITATIONS SUBJECT TO CONSUMER LAW

    TO THE EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW, THIS WARRANTY AND THE REMEDIES SET FORTH ARE EXCLUSIVE AND IN LIEU OF ALL OTHER WARRANTIES, REMEDIES AND CONDITIONS, WHETHER ORAL, WRITTEN, STATUTORY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED. APPLE DISCLAIMS ALL STATUTORY AND IMPLIED WARRANTIES, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION, WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND WARRANTIES AGAINST HIDDEN OR LATENT DEFECTS, TO THE EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW. IN SO FAR AS SUCH WARRANTIES CANNOT BE DISCLAIMED, APPLE LIMITS THE DURATION AND REMEDIES OF SUCH WARRANTIES TO THE DURATION OF THIS EXPRESS WARRANTY AND, AT APPLE'S OPTION, THE REPAIR OR REPLACEMENT SERVICES DESCRIBED BELOW. SOME STATES (COUNTRIES AND PROVINCES) DO NOT ALLOW LIMITATIONS ON HOW LONG AN IMPLIED WARRANTY (OR CONDITION) MAY LAST, SO THE LIMITATION DESCRIBED ABOVE MAY NOT APPLY TO YOU.


    I don't know about across US, but a company willfully disabling a device - for security reasons or otherwise - just wouldn't fly in many countries.
  • Reply 16 of 72
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,454member
    atlapple said:
    Applecare + is a real bargain compared to dealing with an issue like this. 
    Until it happens after your phone is out of warranty. Also consider this issue is happening to phones that have never been in for repair of any kind, and it's happening after Apple Care + has expired, with a specific iOS update. 
  • Reply 17 of 72
    I can easily understand why Apple can and should disable touch ID if it has been compromised by the user's decision to bypass authorized repair service. What is less understandable is having the iPhone rendered utterly unusable.

    A stolen iPhone could conceivably be tampered with to allow the thief to use ApplePay to make purchases which should be Apple's responsibility if it did nothing to defend against this. But I don't understand why a user who doesn't care about TouchID shouldn't be able to continue to use the iPhone sans TouchID due to third party repair.

    I had an iPod touch with a failed lightning port so it could not be recharged. Apple's only solution was to swap it for a pricey rebuilt unit without the contents of my internal drive (I was traveling and did not have a good backup). I found a third party that would replace the lightning port and almost all was well. I was able to back up my data at home.

    dreyfus2mr. hargonaut
  • Reply 18 of 72
    How is this "going too far?" And the use of the word unauthorized should tell people not to mess with the component. Hell, there's computers I've worked with that if you open the case, you void the entire warranty on it. For me at least, when it comes to sensitive parts, I trust only the Apple Store or an AASP to do the work. At least they're provided the proper tools to ensure everything is fixed properly. 
    magman1979
  • Reply 19 of 72
    bluefire1bluefire1 Posts: 1,304member
    This lawsuit sets the bar pretty low for asininity.
    matrix077jbdragon
  • Reply 20 of 72
    There is a happy middle ground Apple should be doing. Do that repair and the phone works still, but not Touch ID. That's fair. Bricking is overkill and truly a shame. At some level a phone is a safety device (and in my case a work device) and that is too extreme. Of course I would go to Apple if I could, but what if I am far from the mainstream world (travel, Tanzania, outback Canada, etc)?
    cash907censoredmr. h
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