Thursday, April 22, 2010

Apple's secrecy kills...literally

In the wake of the leaked iPhone 4 there has been a lot of discussion on the interwebs about Apple's notoriously tight controls on its yet-to-be announced products, and while reading about them I found this fascinating and slightly chilling article published last December about Apple's "Worldwide Loyalty Team," a.k.a. the Apple Gestapo. Here's an excerpt:

The operation, as Tom calls it, is not anything special. It is not one of a kind event. It's just a normal practice, and the process is pretty simple: The manager will instruct all employees to stay at their desks, telling them what to do and what to expect at any given time. The Apple Gestapo never handles the communication. They are there, present, supervising the supervisors, making sure everything goes as planned.

All cellphones are then taken. Usually, they collect them all at the same time, which means that the process could take a long time. If you need to contact the exterior during the time your cellphone is under examination, you will have to ask for permission, and your call will be monitored.

They don't ask for cameras because there are no cameras at Apple: Employees are not allowed to get into the campus with them. If the cellphone is an iPhone, it gets backed up onto a laptop. "In fact, at the beginning they used to say that the iPhones were really their property, since Apple gave every employee a free iPhone," he points out. All the employees are asked to unlock and disable any locking features in their cellphones, and then the special forces will proceed to check them for recent activity.

They back up everything and go through all the other phones' text messages and pictures. If you have porn in your phone, they will see it. If you have text messages to your spouse, lover, or Tiger Woods, they will see them, too. Just like that. No privacy, no limits.

In fact, the pressure to keep secrets is so strong that Foxconn – one of Apple's Chinese supplier who produces the iPhone – once had its "security team" drive an employee to commit suicide after he lost an iPhone prototype. Not Apple per se, but I have a feeling that if he had lost a Palm prototype, he'd still be alive today.

No comments: