Apple To Face Lawsuit Over Disabling Customer Phones

Apple will be the target of a class-action lawsuit, relating to reports that they “bricked” iPhones that had their home buttons repaired anywhere outside an Apple Store or Apple-authorized repair center. Seattle-based law firm PCVA announced that it filed the suit in federal court on February 11.

How it works is that when a user updated their phone’s software, it would detect the third-party repair and disable the device, showing users a message that reads “Error 53.” Users would have to bring their phone to an Apple Store to get the device restored, and even worse, any data that was not backed up before the update (photos, etc.) would be permanently lost with no way to recover that data.

PCVA alleges that Apple may be pursuing this policy in order to force users to get their screens repaired at an Apple Store – which charges $129 or more, while third-party stores charge $50 to $80 for the service.

Apple representatives have claimed that the policy exists as a security safeguard to protect personal data, however PCVA partner Darrell Cochran disagreed with that notion.

“If security was the primary concern, then why did the phones work just fine, sometimes for several months, without the software update,” Cochran asked. “Error 53 only rears its ugly head when downloading a newer version of Apple’s operating system.”

Compounding the issue (and the potential damage to consumers) is that Apple never disclosed that data would be lost on update.

“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.”

PCVA’s statements are available here:

Error 53 Lawsuit

PVCA Press Release

Apple’s statement to The Guardian can be found here:

The Guardian

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