A new security policy rendering useless any iPhone 6 devices repaired by third parties or damaged is prompting outrage and may even lead to legal action.
The issue is known as ‘Error 53′, after the message that appears on the screens of affected users’ smartphones. With a new software update, if a device’s home button is not found to be the original that came with the hardware, or if its Touch ID fingerprint scanning system is deemed to be defective, that iPhone 6 will be rendered inoperable, and Apple Store employees will refuse to fix it.
It’s an issue that has reportedly affected thousands of users, with iFixit.com’s Kyle Wiens telling the Guardian that his ‘Error 53’ page had over 180,000 hits and counting. And amid perceptions that Apple is essentially forcing customers to use its own repair services rather than those of third parties, there are now accusations that the company is breaking the law, with one American law firm calling for victims to get in touch for a class action lawsuit.
For its part, Apple frames the issue as a security matter, with a spokesperson asserting that the afflicted home button and Touch ID systems are connected to users’ sensitive fingerprint biometric data, which is used to authenticate mPayment transactions via Apple Pay; as such, Apple must ensure its user data is protected by performing repairs in-house.
It’s a message that jibes with recent posturing on Apple’s part with respect to ensuring the security and privacy of user data. But given the company’s closed ecosystem approach to its hardware and software, and its sometimes ruthless business tactics, many outraged users are finding good reason for skepticism.