Home LIFESTYLE Style News Apple Memo Urging Employees Not to Leak . . . Leaks

Apple Memo Urging Employees Not to Leak . . . Leaks

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In what is seemingly becoming a trend among tech companies, Bloomberg has published an internal memo sent to Apple employees, suggesting consequences like jail time for those who leak sensitive company information to journalists.

The memo says that Apple caught 29 leakers last year, 12 of whom were arrested, and threatens its employees with the same fate: “Leakers do not simply lose their jobs at Apple,” the memo states. “In some cases, they face jail time and massive fines for network intrusion and theft of trade secrets both classified as federal crimes.” It also warns of members of the press who might try to reach out to company employees on social media to gain information about Apple, a tactic known in the business as “reporting.” Though Apple has always taken secrecy seriously, its leaking issues have become more aggravated, particularly surrounding last year’s iPhone 8 release. “While it may seem flattering to be approached, it’s important to remember that you’re getting played,” the memo says. “The success of these outsiders is measured by obtaining Apple’s secrets from you and making them public. 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.”

Apple sympathizers will say that leakers are fundamentally different from whistleblowers—employees may justifiably feel compelled to speak out about wrongs committed at a company, but leaking for leaking’s sake is bad for morale. But Apple’s obsession with confidentiality and secrecy goes beyond that of most tech companies; last year, the Outline obtained a recording of an internal briefing at Apple intended to address its war on leakers. “I have faith deep in my soul that if we hire smart people they’re gonna think about this, they’re gonna understand this, and ultimately they’re gonna do the right thing, and that’s to keep their mouth shut,” one company V.P. said. Apple’s Global Security team employs investigators who have previously worked in the U.S. military, U.S. intelligence agencies like the National Security Agency, and law enforcement agencies like the Secret Service and the F.B.I.

The memo’s release is particularly poorly timed for Apple which, in recent weeks, has worked to set itself apart from its increasingly loathed Silicon Valley brethren. “The truth is, we could make a ton of money if we monetized our customer—if our customer was our product,” Apple C.E.O. Tim Cook told Recode’s Kara Swisher and MSNBC’s Chris Hayes last month in a thinly veiled jab at Facebook and its C.E.O., Mark Zuckerberg. “We’ve elected not to do that.” But the blatant threats and aggressive overtones contained within the Apple memo suffice to knock the company off the high road, bringing it back on par with companies like Facebook and Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, where a similar memo inevitably leaked in January. “If you leak Snap Inc. information, you will lose your job and we will pursue any and all legal remedies against you,” Snap general counsel Michael O’Sullivan warned at the time. “And that’s just the start . . . The government, our investors, and other third parties can also seek their own remedies against you for what you disclosed. The government can even put you in jail.”

Apple’s dictatorial attitude doesn’t seem to be impacting its bottom line—the company’s market capitalization hovers just under $900 billion, and the company posted a record $88 billion in sales during its most recent quarterly earnings report.

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