What just happened? Apple has been slapped with a $9 million fine in Australia over the “error 53” fiasco that was bricking iPhone back in 2016.
According to The Sydney Morning Herald, the fine comes over a complaint from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which alleged that Apple denied fixing phones with error 53 for customers who had received repairs from third-party shops.
“[The customers said] they were being refused a remedy of any kind by Apple on the basis that their device had had unauthorised repairs, and those repairs could be as minor as just having a cracked screen replaced on an iPhone or iPad, which all of us need to do from time to time,” said ACCC Commissioner Sarah Court. “These consumers were being told, ‘because you’ve had this third party repair, you are not entitled to any remedy.’”
Error 53 resulted after updates to iOS 9 locked down iPhones if it detected that the fingerprint sensor in the home button had been tampered with in any way. Unfortunately, this “security feature” was triggered by legitimate home button repairs or even by unrelated damages to the device.
"If you want to sell your product into this market then our provisions apply and you need to adhere to those, and clearly that's what the court has found here."
The real gripe came down to Apple’s stance that customers who had chosen to have the phones repaired by a third party, voided their warranty in doing so. Therefore, Apple was not obligated to resolve the error 53 issue. The ACCC did not take kindly to this stance and took the tech giant to court over it.
The ACCC argued that under Australian law “customers and consumers are free to have screens and other repairs done by third-parties as long as the repair doesn’t damage the underlying system of the phone.”
An Australian Federal Court sided with the consumer protection group and fined Apple $9 million (about $6.66 million US) for the infraction. Cupertino also agreed to a “court enforceable undertaking” to abstain from such conduct in the future.
“We’re constantly looking for ways to enhance the service we deliver and we had very productive conversations with the ACCC about this,” an Apple spokesperson said of the decision. “We will continue to do all we can to deliver excellent service to all of our customers in Australia.”