US District Court Dismisses ‘Error 53’ Case for Lack of Standing and Proof

Posted by at 6:32 am on June 22, 2016

Apple LogoA lawsuit borne of the short-lived “Error 53” issue that happened to some iOS devices where the Touch ID button had been replaced or repaired by unauthorized non-Apple personnel was dismissed on Tuesday by a US District Court judge, who rejected both the plaintiff’s original complaints and their amended claims following Apple’s release of a¬†tool to restore iPhones bricked by the anti-tampering feature, which was designed to prevent third-parties from altering or hacking into the Touch ID sensor.

The error only ever occurred to users who had damaged their Touch ID home buttons on the iPhone 6 or newer, and had them replaced by non-Apple service outlets. Even if the authentic replacement parts were used and the repair restored functionality, users would see the iPhone offer an “Error 53” message and refuse to be restored or operate following an iOS update or restore, where the part would fail a validation check. Apple later admitted the error was meant to be a factory test designed to prevent tampering.

The plaintiffs in the case originally claimed that Apple had failed to warn customers about security features that could render their iPhones inoperable, and claimed the problem caused “permanent data loss.” They also accused the company of false advertising, saying the company knew of the “Error 53” problem inherent in the design of the device.

The judge dismissed all the claims, noting that “the mere fact that a company has designed a product doesn’t mean it automatically knows about all of that product’s potential design flaws,” and “with regard to Apple’s alleged omissions, the plaintiffs’ position seems to be that Apple should have ‘disclosed that their devices would be destroyed by embedded features if they had repaired devices using an independent service and then updated to certain iOS versions.” But the plaintiffs haven’t plausibly alleged that Apple actually knew of this alleged risk,’ but the plaintiffs haven’t plausibly alleged that Apple actually knew of this alleged risk.”

He went on to note that the plaintiffs were unable to prove any permanent data loss as a direct result of the error 53 issue, and could not prove that Apple had engaged in any false advertising. He further dismissed the claim that Apple hadn’t done enough to address the problem, since the company both restored bricked iPhones, and ensured that all users affected by the issue eventually got repairs that restored the iPhones to working order, as well as issued a software update to prevent the bricking issue from happening in similarly-altered iPhones in the future, though the validation check will still disable Touch ID.

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