Apple employees rue over lack of personal privacy

Apple employees rue over lack of personal privacy: Report

Among the top technology companies around the world, Apple has been the most vocal in advocating for the protection of digital device owners' personal privacy. It has gone to great lengths in bringing transparency for its customers on how apps use their data. Recently, new updates have also enabled Apple device owners to block the apps from tracking at all times. 

Ironically, Apple employees don't have such privileges, says a new report.

In a tell-all interview with The Verge, some Apple employees have shared the predicament they face working in the company.

Three years ago, when Jacob Preston joined Apple, his manager asked him to link his personal Apple ID with his work account. Though the employees have the choice of creating a new ID for work, it is practically impossible to manage two accounts and messy to switch between them on regular basis on a single device.

So, most often Apple employees link their Apple ID to the work account and as a favour, the company offers them  2TB of iCloud storage and a separate Work Folder, where they can share their work progress and interact with the colleagues.

However, several apps such as the iMessage app, Photos that are used for personal communications, get connected to iCloud, and inevitably, personal stuff such as intimate photos, videos get accumulated in work devices. 

Similarly, it happens while testing new software and native apps, too.

The Verge added that when employees join  Apple, they have to sign an agreement to allow the company to do "physical, video, or electronic surveillance” in addition to “search the workspace such as file cabinets, desks, and offices (even if locked), review phone records, or search any non-Apple property such as backpacks, purses on company premises.”

And, when the employee resigns from the company, the former will be asked to hand over the work devices and be explicitly told not to wipe any data on them. The employees believe this to be a breach of privacy. 

However, when looked at Apple's perspective, it has a lot of challenges of its own of keeping the trade secrets safe. Apple is very aggressive in protecting intellectual properties (software and hardware) and there have been instances when the Cupertino-based company filed lawsuits against even media organizations. One such incident-- Apple filed a case of misappropriation of lost property against Gizmodo editor for keeping an iPhone 4 prototype. which by way was found abandoned at a liquor bar in San Francisco. An Apple employee had visited that place and left the mobile unattended. There, some blogger got hold of it and sold the device for $5,000 to a Gizmodo reporter.

After Apple's complaint, police raided the editor's house and confiscated the computer, and even seized his server as well. Cut to the chase, the case was closed in 2011 after the district attorney’s office handling the case decided not to charge the editor of any crime.

Also, Apple has a strict policy with supply chain partners in China too. The company hates to see its prototypes surfacing online on media websites long before the official launch.

Several reports have revealed that Apple keeps several retired officials of the Federal Bureau of Intelligence (FBI) and other US intelligence agencies on its payroll (under anti-leak team --Global Security) to track anomalies within the company and also outside to keep a check on leaking of IP secrets by company officials and temporary contractors around the world.

It is believed that whenever unreleased products such as new iPhones get leaked out to the public, prospective customers may refrain from buying the products from off the shelves for a few months, thereby causing billions of dollars loss to the company.

However, it would be good if Apple, in the interest of its employees' privacy, loosens up the strict rules and surveillance.


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