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MacRumors

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Apr 12, 2001
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Seattle-based law firm Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala (PCVA) today followed through with plans to bring a class action lawsuit against Apple over the "Error 53" controversy that made headlines last week.

"Error 53" is the error code that some iPhone 6 owners have received after third-party repairs that affect Touch ID were made to their iPhones, rendering the devices unusable. As explained by iFixit, repairs made by third-party services using components not sourced from the original device cause the iPhone to fail a Touch ID validation check because the mismatched parts are unable to properly sync. Parts that can impact Touch ID include the screen, flex cable, and Home button.

When this Touch ID validation check fails during an iOS update or restore, Apple disables the iPhone, effectively "bricking" it in an effort to protect Touch ID and the related Secure Enclave that stores customer fingerprint information. Apple says that without the validation check, a malicious Touch ID sensor could be used to gain access to the Secure Enclave.

PCVA attorney Darrell Cochran, who is leading the Error 53 lawsuit, claims that Apple's security argument is invalid because affected iPhones often work fine for several months following repairs as the validation check only occurs when downloading a new version of iOS. He also cites Apple's failure to give a warning about the consequence of an update as an issue that will be featured in the lawsuit.
"No materials we've seen from Apple ever show a disclosure that your phone would self-destruct if you download new software onto a phone," Cochran said. "If Apple wants to kill your phone under any set of circumstances and for any reason, it has to make it crystal clear to its customers before the damage is done."

Compounding the problem, according to Cochran, is how disagreeable Apple's reaction to the problem has been. "The error code 53 signals the death of the phone, and Apple's response has been to say 'you have no options; it's not covered under warranty, and you have to buy a new phone.'"
PCVA is aiming to get affected iPhone customers new, working devices to "provide immediate relief" to consumers. It is also seeking upwards of $5 million in damages and an update to eliminate the repair restrictions. PCVA is asking customers who have been impacted by Error 53 to get in touch.

Aside from explaining the reasoning behind the Error 53 message and its consequences, Apple has remained quiet about the controversy. MacRumors has, however, heard from a retail source that certain Apple Stores have received the go ahead from Apple to replace third-party screens and other components to resolve the issue. It is not yet clear if this replacement policy will be extended to all Apple Stores or if Apple will make an official comment on the situation.

Article Link: Apple Facing Class Action Lawsuit Over 'Error 53' iPhone 6 Bricking
 

ToroidalZeus

macrumors 68020
Dec 8, 2009
2,300
871
Seems like they have legit case.

So... They made third-party repairs, which annulled their warranty, and bricked their phone and now they're suing? Why does Apple owe them anything, exactly? Didn't they agree to Apple's terms when they purchased the device?

There is a lot of misinformation on this subject. The "brick" happens when someone replaces the TouchID sensor--with a GENUINE OR 3rd party part. Apple is most likely within their right to disable TouchID when they detect a mismatched sensor as it's a security risk. However bricking the device and not giving any warning is probably going too far.
 
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goobot

macrumors 603
Jun 26, 2009
5,989
3,077
long island NY
I agree that their Touch ID should be disabled, but is there some reason that's not possible?

If they got a message saying "Touch ID disabled" I'd say these people have no case.

But as it is, isn't this like making your iMac refuse to boot because you broke the DVD drive?
It's more like a car not starting because you tried a cheap knockoff key.
 
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lampwins

macrumors newbie
Feb 11, 2016
13
72
It amazes me how little people actually care about their security (and do not confuse security with privacy here). Apple is trying to protect its users, but they are too stupid to realize.

But on the other hand, Availability is a part of the CIA triad so bricking the phone does violate this premise.

However, Apple is doing this because a piece of hardware inserted between the Touch-ID Sensor and the Secure Enclave could in theory either intercept scans or access the enclave.

They are doing this to protect you, not as a "screw you for trying to fix your own phone." People will always see what they want to see though, I suppose.
 
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dk001

Contributor
So... They made third-party repairs, which annulled their warranty, and bricked their phone and now they're suing? Why does Apple owe them anything, exactly? Didn't they agree to Apple's terms when they purchased the device?

iPhone 6/6+ are out of warranty unless you purchased Apple Care.
Warranty has little to do with this for the 6/6+
 
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tranceme

macrumors regular
Jan 10, 2006
100
38
California, US
That's semi-true however there is no fix in case. In the case of the car you can get a proper key from the dealership. Plus you don't need TouchID for a functional phone as it's an extra feature and the phone works properly without it.

You can get proper fix from Apple. Not sure what you mean.
 
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tranceme

macrumors regular
Jan 10, 2006
100
38
California, US
Seems like they have legit case.



There is a lot of misinformation on this subject. The "brick" happens when someone replaces the TouchID sensor--with a GENUINE OR 3rd party part. Apple is most likely within their right to disable TouchID when they detect a mismatched sensor as it's a security risk. However bricking the device and not giving any warning is probably going too far.

So, you're saying if you had Apple replace with a GENUINE sensor, it's brick? I don't think that is the case.

Also, in another life, I would reprogram chips for cars. The manufacturers were starting to reject these if modified. This is not new. The car would not start.
 
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garylapointe

macrumors 68000
Feb 19, 2006
1,759
1,144
Dearborn (Detroit), MI, USA
I agree that their Touch ID should be disabled, but is there some reason that's not possible?

If they got a message saying "Touch ID disabled" I'd say these people have no case.

I agree. It seems simple enough to just disable the touchpad and give the warning message (with the added detail that it's possible things have been attempted to be compromised).

Someone would still need the passcode to get in and if they had the passcode they could have just turned off the fingerprint scanner in the first place.

But since we're really not in the know on there there're is a definite possibility that there is more to it that...

Gary
 
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LogicalApex

macrumors 6502a
Nov 13, 2015
647
671
But if I go into setting and turn off Touch ID, my phone still works. Does it not?

You make it sound like it's impossible to use the phone without Touch ID, but it's an option right there in the settings.

For Apple it is a lot more complicated that this. There is nothing saying that this cares if you have TouchID enabled or not, I suspect it doesn't care either way... The core of the issue is a major component of the security system of the device has been compromised. Since all of the security on your iOS device is done locally with all of the keys being stored on the device in the secure element it locks up when something is outside of expected parameters...

The system is a lot like Secure Boot on Windows 10. Everything has to check out or everything fails. You can't trust anything when one part is out of line so you trust none. Otherwise, the whole system can be compromised.
 
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garylapointe

macrumors 68000
Feb 19, 2006
1,759
1,144
Dearborn (Detroit), MI, USA
So, you're saying if you had Apple replace with a GENUINE sensor, it's brick? I don't think that is the case.

I think it still needs to be properly synced/paired.

Also, in another life, I would reprogram chips for cars. The manufacturers were starting to reject these if modified. This is not new. The car would not start.

They car would never ever start again?

Gary
 
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kd5jos

macrumors 6502
Oct 28, 2007
427
141
Denver, CO
Could we just make it so that S versions of the iPhone are for those of us concerned about security, and make the C versions of the phone for Consumers?

Then I get the security I require, and the average person that doesn't mind playing roulette gets to do so.
 
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