APPLE COULD FACE LEGAL ACTION over the Error 53 problem that has seen a number of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S units borked beyond repair without warning of action or consequence.
As reported at The Guardian, Seattle-based law firm PCVA is gearing up to bring a class action against Apple on behalf of people whose iDevices have been rendered worthless by the controversial software upgrade.
"We believe Apple may be intentionally forcing users to use their repair services, which cost much more than most third-party repair shops," PCVA said. "There is incentive for Apple to keep end users from finding alternative methods to fix their products."
Apple might find itself in legal trouble here in the UK, too. London-based barrister Richard Colbey told the newspaper that Error 53 could be viewed as an offence under the Criminal Damage Act 1971.
"It is hard to see how something which ceases to work in this way could be said to be of reasonable quality, one of the determinants of which is durability," he said.
"The law states: 'A person who without lawful excuse destroys or damages any property belonging to another, intending to destroy or damage any such property or being reckless as to whether any such property would be destroyed or damaged shall be guilty of an offence.'"
Apple confirmed earlier this week that the bricking 'feature' is indeed deliberate. "This security measure is necessary to protect your device and prevent a fraudulent Touch ID sensor being used," the firm said.
But many people have questioned whether it was right for Apple to include such a feature without making it explicit, and whether it really is a security feature or an excuse to monopolise iPhone repairs.
Respected security expert Graham Cluley has come out in favour of the feature. He told The INQUIRER: "The iPhone's Touch ID sensor is the bit of kit which examines your fingerprint, and compares it to the fingerprint data it has securely stored. If the iPhone detects it has been tampered with by a third-party that seems a pretty reasonable thing to display an error message about.
"We would be moaning if this was a way for criminals to meddle with the fingerprint sensor or to steal fingerprint data, so I feel this is sensible of Apple."
It first emerged on Friday that if iPhone 6 and 6S devices are repaired by a non-Apple technician an Error 53 message is generated that bricks the phone.
There have also been reports of phones that are 'broken but usable' suddenly falling victim to Error 53 and bricking.
The 'fault' appears to be a new addition to the code in the most recent iOS 9 build that renders the phone completely useless and traps any data, i.e. contacts, photos, music and anything else not backed up to the iCloud.
There is no warning from Apple that installing the new software will brick your phone - just accept the update and fetch the mortar - and it's this that's sticking in people's craws.
The Genius Bars in Apple stores have told affected users that there is nothing the firm can do about Error 53 and that your only option is a new phone.
Some people have pointed out that their unofficial repair was carried out in countries where no official Apple Stores exist, so what is a hipster to do?
One one hand, this appears to be the worst kind of ransomware, a payload designed to make sure you use only an Apple Store and pay upwards of £200 for a repair that could cost you £30 in Woolwich town centre. Or on the other hand, as Cluley points out, we could easily be writing a story about the travesty of an insecure fingerprint security system. µ
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