Is Apple’s Error 53 Illegal?


Apple’s newest strategy to sale iPhones seems to be garnering a lot of attention. As we have already talked about Apple has decided to brick the phones of users that have had third party repairs done to their fragile iPhones. Just yesterday I questioned the ethics behind this decision. And shortly after writing that post, I discovered that Apple has now made it impossible for users to downgrade back to iOS 9.2. While Apple closing the downgrade window to users is nothing new, users who are only now discovering about Error 53 cannot protect themselves by moving back to the previous version.

Apple wants users to have their phones repaired only by Apple, and have previously taken actions such as using proprietary screws and even replacing standard screws with these pentalobe screws when users brought their phones in to be repaired. Without telling the users of course. Now, Apple has taken it to the extreme. Not only making it more difficult for users to repair their own phones, not only voiding the warranty, but quite literally bricking their phones. Making them permanently unusable.

Like many of Apple’s practices, I questioned the ethics of this decision. Now, other’s are questioning the legality. In the UK, barrister Richard Colbey of Lamb Chambers has stated that Apple’s policy likely breaches basic UK consumer laws citing the Criminal Damage Act of 1971. This 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.”

Good on the UK for having such a law in place. I find the law quite reasonable. And I believe Apple’s policy is in direct violation of the law.

Meanwhile across the pond, here in the US, the beginnings of a class action lawsuit is already taking place. Seattle based law firm PCVA is asking for victims to get in touch with them for an impending suit. PCVA states on their website,

We hope to find out why Apple implements a policy where end users aren’t free to choose someone other than Apple to repair their devices. We believe that Apple may be intentionally forcing users to use their repair services, which cost much more than most third party repair shops. Where you could get your screen replaced by a neighborhood repair facility for $50-80, Apple charges $129 or more. There is incentive for Apple to keep end users from finding alternative methods to fix their products.

Think of it this way: Let’s say you bought a car, and had your alternator replaced by a local mechanic. Under Apple’s strategy, your car would no longer start because you didn’t bring it to an official dealership. They intentionally disable your car because you tried to fix it yourself.

That is wrong, and we hope to prove that it violates various consumer protection laws in the United States.

What do you think? Do you think we shall see this reach the courts? Will Apple get away with bricking user’s phones? Or do you think Apple will backpedal before it reaches that point? Does Taylor Swift need to push Apple in to doing the right thing again?

If you or anyone you know has fallen victim to Error 53 encourage them to contact PCVA here.

source: The Guardian


BlackBerry Elite Founder & Owner of UTB Blogs and UTB Geek. When I'm not talking or writing about BlackBerry, you'll find me using my BlackBerry.


    I’ve seen and heard horrific stories outside Error 53, like their iPhones forcing the user to update his/her OS while the user is busy fiddling with the phone. It suddenly shuts and won’t function not unless they hit the UPDATE button.

    And another one is, the camera gets blurry and becomes useless after, even when the user didn’t do anything about it.

    Crazy tactics indeed.

  • m3mb3rsh1p

    It definitely sounds illegal. There appears to be a “right to repair” law protecting vehicle owners…

    As far as ethics go, however, this clearly stinks and shows that Apple has used it’s obscene wealth to forge a brazen set of balls to plug their ears, cover their eyes and stifle the lump in their throat that reminds normal people to love the neighbors.

    In a right-side-up world I might expect a chuckle from calling them a “bad apple” but this and their general deviance is not funny.

    It’s so sad because they make a few good products that would still be successful with more modest profit goals and less hype. They’ve forsaken their humanity for a few extra billion dollars.

    Fortunately for us, we are Privy to the existence of a Good company that stands for what’s right, growing sweet Berries even in the Black of night. Our Passports only allow travel within secure lands where every step is not a self-serving act but a Leap for all.

    • Brad

      LMFAO! I see what you did there!

  • Reverend Grim

    How on earth is this a security measure? Fixing an operating system so that Tom, Dick or Harry can’t get in when your in Starbucks or making sure the cloud is secure so there isn’t another ‘Fappening’ fixing the fingerprint scanner so that anyone with a printer/scanner can’t get into it… Shall I go on or have I made my point? Fixing all the holes, backdoor and flaws… they are security measures! When will people learn that Apple are just fleecing them for an iNferior product?

    Apple will back pedal for sure but put a spin on it (or try to) so that they look like the good guys, as per usual! They back pedal so much I’m surprised they ever go forward… oh that’s right they don’t! They’re still stuck with 2012 tech!


    I believe that the courts know this as ‘restraint of trade’. If apple people are no too far in the bag for that company, I suspect that there will be a massive ‘class action’ attack over this.
    One can always hope.

  • CabbagePatch_D

    To answer the titled question, yes, yes it is legal. For in the world according to Apple, anything they do is the right thing to do.

    But seriously though, even if people file a class action lawsuit against Apple for their unethical and possibly illegal business practices, sadly most of these same people will still probably rush out to buy the buy a next iDevice. locco_smiley_47

  • Observation Junkie

    Great article Brad.

    It does seem absolutely crazy that Apple would want to Brick a customers phone, and in the whole process tarnish it’s own brand. Not that I’m complaining.

    Is this another reason for Apple to squeeze more money out of its customers, it appears so.