Apple sued over 'error 53' iPhone shutdowns
By Team Legistify / 2017-04-08

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An Australian regulator is suing Apple Inc. AAPL -0.52% over software which disabled iPhones and iPads that had been serviced outside Apple stores after users downloaded updates.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission alleges Apple violated Australia’s consumer law by shutting down or “bricking” the devices, and then telling customers the company wouldn’t fix the problem at no cost because their devices had been previously serviced by third-party providers. The errors appeared from September 2014 to at least February 2016.

Apple last year said “Error 53” was a mistake that was designed to be a factory test and apologized for the inconvenience, posting instructions on its website for consumers to fix the problem. Initially, however, Apple said Error 53 was necessary to protect consumers’ devices if a fraudulent fingerprint sensor was used.

The regulator, which filed the lawsuit in the Federal Court of Australia, is seeking monetary penalties, though it is too early to tell how much Apple could be ordered to pay if it is found liable. Penalties of up to A$1.1 million ($829,000) per breach could be assessed, though it would be up to the court to define how many breaches occurred.

While some Apple users took comfort that the company was taking steps to protect consumers’ devices in case they were stolen, others saw Error 53 as an attempt to prevent customers from going to third-party providers to have their devices repaired.

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