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Lawfirm considers suit over iPhone's Touch ID-connected 'Error 53'

A Seattle-based lawfirm is considering a class action lawsuit against Apple, following reports of an "Error 53" message some iPhone owners have seen after having unofficial repairs done on their Touch ID sensor.

The firm, PCVA, is investigating the option, and soliticting complaints from people affected by the glitch, The Guardian said on Monday. The message is triggered if people get unauthorized repairs that affect the Touch ID sensor, and then try to update or restore their iPhone. At that stage the phone is rendered both unusable and ineligible for warranty coverage.

"We believe Apple may be intentionally forcing users to use their repair services, which cost much more than most third-party repair shops," PCVA claimed, noting that the public would find it unacceptable if carmakers forced drivers to bring vehicles into an official dealership for service.

The firm said it would represent any affected people coming forward for free.

In its defense, Apple has said that it's trying to protect the security of users. Touch ID normally saves data in a component known as the Secure Enclave, and in theory unofficial parts could be used to steal a user's fingerprint. During official repairs Apple re-validates the pairing between the Touch ID sensor and the Enclave.

The company is asking people impacted by Error 53 to contact Apple Support, but to date the only known solution has been to get a replacement iPhone.