Sun, Apr 15, 2018 - Page 16 News List

Apple threatens staff leaking details

NEED TO KNOW:The company has become a crucial part of investment portfolios, and as a result the media have continued to satisfy demand for information on it

Bloomberg

Apple Inc warned employees to stop leaking internal information on future plans, and raised the specter of potential legal action and criminal charges, one of the most aggressive moves by the world’s largest technology company to control information about its activities.

The Cupertino, California-based company in a lengthy memo posted to its internal blog said that it “caught 29 leakers” last year and 12 of those were arrested.

“These people not only lose their jobs, they can face extreme difficulty finding employment elsewhere,” Apple added.

The company declined to comment on Friday.

Apple outlined situations in which information was leaked to the media, including a meeting earlier this year at which Apple senior vice president of Software Engineering Craig Federighi told employees that some planned iPhone software features would be delayed.

The company also cited a software package that had yet to be released, which revealed details about the unreleased iPhone X and new Apple Watch.

Leaked information about a new product can negatively impact sales of current models, give rivals more time to begin a competitive response and lead to fewer sales when the product launches, the memo said.

“We want the chance to tell our customers why the product is great and not have that done poorly by someone else,” Greg Joswiak, an Apple product marketing executive, said in the memo.

The crackdown is part of broader and long-running attempts by Silicon Valley technology companies to track and limit what information their employees share publicly.

Firms like Google and Facebook Inc are reasonably open with staff about their plans, but keep close tabs on their outside communications and sometimes fire people when they find leaks.

Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg last week spoke about her disappointment over leakers.

In 2016, Google fired an employee after the person shared internal posts criticizing an executive.

The employee filed a lawsuit claiming their speech was protected under California law.

Apple is notoriously secretive about its product development. In 2012, Apple chief executive officer Tim Cook pledged to double down on keeping the company’s work under wraps.

Despite that, the media have continued to report news on the firm to satisfy demand for information on a company that has become a crucial part of investment portfolios.

Last year, Apple held a confidential meeting with employees in another bid to stop leaks.

Since then, publications, including Bloomberg News, published details about the iPhone X, a new Apple TV video-streaming box, a new Apple Watch with LTE, the company’s upcoming augmented-reality headset, new iPad models, software enhancements, and headphones for the upcoming iPhones and AirPods.

Investments by Apple have had an enormous effect on the company’s ability to identify and catch leakers.

Just before last September’s special event, an employee leaked a link to the gold master of iOS 11 to the press, believing he would not be caught. The unreleased OS detailed soon-to-be-announced software and hardware, including the iPhone X. Within days, the leaker was identified through an internal investigation and fired.

Apple Global Security’s digital forensics has also helped catch several employees who were feeding confidential details about new products to a blogger at 9to5Mac.

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