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Class-action lawsuit filed against Apple over 'Error 53' failed iPhone security checks

Touch ID sensors on multiple iPhones
Touch ID sensors on multiple iPhones (Image credit: iMore)

A Seattle-based lawfirm, Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala PLLC (PCVA), has filed a class-action lawsuit with the Northern California U.S. District Court against Apple over the "Error 53" security issue. "Error 53" crops up when installing a software update on an iPhone which has had its Touch ID Home button repaired, which Apple says is the result of security checks in iOS 9. However, the attorneys at PCVA don't buy that explanation.

From PCVA:

"The first objective is to get all the affected iPhone customers re-outfitted with working phones, and without the overwhelming costs that thousands of people are facing right now with error 53 codes and bricked phones," said Darrell Cochran, lead attorney for the class action lawsuit. "That will provide immediate relief to the consumers and, in the end, it will also help Apple," Cochran said.

As we've previously noted, "Error 53" seems to be a new issue that cropped up after iOS 9. Despite initial reports, the error can in fact affect both third-party and official Apple repairs. However, while Apple can swap out your current device for a new one, third-party repair shops cannot.

At this time, it's unclear how many people have been affected by "Error 53". Additionally, the lawsuit still needs to be granted class-action status.

Source: Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala PLLC

Joseph Keller is the former Editor in Chief of iMore. An Apple user for almost 20 years, he spends his time learning the ins and outs of iOS and macOS, always finding ways of getting the most out of his iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac.

22 Comments
  • Bring the pitchforks! Sent from the iMore App
  • Likely Apple has a lawsuit against them every other day for something. As does Google, Microsoft, Oracle...
  • I'd say this is a legit lawsuit. I had never heard of this error until people seemed to started getting affected by it. You'd think something like this should be made aware to customers so we know to stay clear of third party repair centers before it's too late.
  • Apple tends to go radio silent when issues arise, it takes a certain amount of media coverage for them to go public with technical issues. If there is no media coverage because the issue is smaller then it takes a lawsuit for them to issue a stealth recall that is usually only heard about through blogs.
  • I really hope that Apple wins this one. And I hope Apple users are smart enough to rally around Apple. This lawsuit is all about a backdoor for security. Can a user override the security that Apple has implemented for TouchID? And of course, if it's possible, it can be hacked. I really hope Apple wins this, I truly value my security.
  • I don't care about winning or losing the lawsuit, but Apple should make the affected phones good.
  • It's not about security or it would have been put in place with the roll out of touch id
  • Error 53 was first found by iMore in October 2013, It's just now becoming more widespread.
  • I think its bigger than security. If my device will turn into a paper weight because I took it to a third party repair center to fix my broken touch ID/home button...I should have been made aware of this. Now I'm out the money to that repair center and I STILL have to go to the Apple store and pay for a replacement. That's not fair to the consumer. At least they could have made us aware that this would be a problem. If nothing else they should provide operable phones to those affected.
  • Except it's not about security. Someone on Reddit called apple out for their "security" excuse.
  • the thing is we have a problem that needs to be solved. no matter what!. let's say my warranty is finished or i don't have an apple store in my city or even country. and i broke something like my screen. then i wanna get my phone fixed ASAP. I would have to get it to nearest repair shop. If he screws even by mistake with TouchID then my phone would be a brick. so, what would be my solution. i can't pay 850$ to buy a new phone just because the screen is damaged. YOU see the point about all of this.
  • Are you kidding me that's bs Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • This error also happens on units that have not been repaired. I work for one of those 3rd party shops and ive seen devices that have yet to be repaired OR had the original parts put back on and had the error pop up. Those are somewhat rare but they do persist. Also these started before iOS 9, we saw them on iOS 8.x
    With a good trained tech the vast majority of repairs can go off with out a hitch. But i do question why the error happens on units with original parts.
  • my iPad keep crashing and it reminds me of my hatred affair with Windows These days, Apple software under Tim Cook really going backwards, the Bill Gates way!
  • If you're on the latest iOS, I'd say your OS is corrupted, try doing a restore and see if it continues crashing
  • Hopefully Apple loses. Posted via the iMore App for Android
  • iFixIt shows you how to fix it yourself https://youtube.com/watch?v=8IEWAQiuz7o
  • They should fix the affected devices.
  • Indeed. Well, either fix them or replace them AND recover the data from the bricked phones. And, before someone says the phones are permanently dead and the data is lost, are we supposed to believe that Apple would deliberately implement a feature that will effectively erase a device with no notice to the end user. If that's the case, they should be required to find a fix, regardless of how expensive doing so may be. You break it, you find a way to fix it. Sent from the iMore App
  • Understood that people will go to a third party to fix their phones for it is cheaper or whatever but i am not surprised that this is happening. It shouldn't happen at all but I am not surprised. I treat my iPhone like I treat my car. I go back to apple for any defects. I don't even go to my carrier. If my home buttons were to stop working, I bought apple care and I am taking it back to them for a swap out. It's like what happened with the iPhone 5 and the power button failures. I thought I would have to have my phone sent out for repair, but I had apple care and they swapped the phone out. Saved me headaches. I was told that I was a fool and was being ripped off for paying for an extended warranty but it served its purpose well. Sent from the iMore App
  • I doubt that Apple actually intended that this would happen. The phone turning into a brick, that is.
    The obvious thing that should have happened is that the touch ID itself would not work if a certain security protocol was not met. And Apple should certainly have warned people that this might happen if the sensor was replaced.
    Even the explanation that this is a security issue is kind of debatable. If security is so important, why wait for an update to impose your security measure? Why not brick the phone right away? People could have been using a supposedly insecure phone for months before getting or installing an update.
    I think that this has caught Apple by surprise. They should come clean and replace the affected phones and make sure it doesn't happen again. It's likely though that this affects every iPhone of that model and it could get kind of expensive for Apple if they had to replace every phone that needs a new touch sensor during its lifetime.
  • I don't think they'll have to replace every phone. It appears this was caused by the iOS upgrade, which would indicate it's at least partly a software issue. At any rate, what's more important is for Apple to recover the data off the bricked devices, if people ask for it back. Yes, it may be expensive, but Apple had an obligation to do it, since this was their screw-up. Sent from the iMore App