Apple reportedly warned employees in an internal memo that it “caught 29 leakers” last year and that 12 were arrested, adding that workers who disclose information to the media have “everything to lose”.
The memo about leaking, which was leaked to Bloomberg and published on Friday, threatened employees with criminal consequences and shines a harsh light on the Silicon Valley company’s aggressive surveillance of its own employees and intensive investigative efforts to catch and punish leakers.
“Last month, Apple caught and fired the employee responsible for leaking details from an internal, confidential meeting about Apple’s software roadmap. Hundreds of software engineers were in attendance … One person betrayed their trust,” the company reportedly wrote on its internal blog.
“The employee who leaked the meeting to a reporter later told Apple investigators that he did it because he thought he wouldn’t be discovered. But people who leak – whether they’re Apple employees, contractors or suppliers – do get caught and they’re getting caught faster than ever.”
The memo further warned workers to be wary of “press, analysts and bloggers” who may “target” or “befriend” them on social media: “While it may seem flattering to be approached, it’s important to remember that you’re getting played … A scoop about an unreleased Apple product can generate massive traffic for a publication and financially benefit the blogger or reporter who broke it. But the Apple employee who leaks has everything to lose.”
The Guardian could not independently confirm the memo, and the company did not respond to a request for comment on Friday.
The memo said “leakers in the supply chain” were also getting caught, adding: “Leakers do not simply lose their jobs at Apple. In some cases, they face jail time and massive fines for network intrusion and theft of trade secrets both classified as federal crimes.”
The company did not provide details on the dozen arrests that it said took place last year, but said those included “employees, contractors and some partners in Apple’s supply chain”. The memo added: “These people not only lose their jobs, they can face extreme difficulty finding employment elsewhere.”
The memo was leaked at a time when Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, has been positioning his company as a more ethical tech firm compared with others in Silicon Valley. Last month, he and the business model at Facebook, which is reeling from a major data privacy scandal.
A recent Guardian investigation uncovered details of the so-called “rat-catching” team at Facebook, which conducts surveillance on workers and fired one employee who leaked innocuous information to a reporter.
Apple is notorious for its culture of secrecy and has reportedly made employees sign non-disclosure agreements specific to projects and used black cloths to cover unlaunched products.
Source: Guardian UK