Apple cracking down on factory leaks, pushes employee privacy

Apple employees will no longer be submitted to fingerprint checks or face scans.

What you need to know

  • Apple is trying to crack down on leaks from its factories and suppliers.
  • A new report from The Information details new measures.
  • It also says Apple is trying to improve privacy for its own employees but not factory workers.

A new report details how Apple is trying to crack down on leaks of devices like the iPhone 13 with more stringent security measures for suppliers.

From The Information:

…The new rule is part of Apple’s updated factory security guidelines, which aims to better preserve its employees’ privacy while toughening the measures used by factory owners to prevent prototypes, designs and other intellectual property from being stolen or shared with outsiders. The latest guidelines require manufacturers to conduct criminal background checks of their workers, the first time Apple has called on them to do so. The rules also mandate increased use of surveillance cameras at facilities and upgrades to factory systems that track components during the production process in order to prevent theft.

Apple also plans to upgrade computer systems in factories, currently used to determine where products should be on an assembly line to stop manufacturers from cutting corners or component theft. Apple will also reportedly monitor how long it takes components to be moved from one part of a factory to another, with an alarm being triggered if it takes too long.

Apple is also pushing the privacy of its own employees, but with seemingly no nod to the employees of its manufacturing partners:

Apple says privacy is a “fundamental human right,” and shielding people’s privacy is the cornerstone of the company’s public relations fight against rivals such as Google and Facebook. But those privacy concerns don’t necessarily apply to the workers who make its products.

Apple recently told its manufacturing partners that they can no longer collect biometric data such as fingerprints or facial scans of Apple employees who visit their facilities, according to an internal Apple document reviewed by The Information. However, the new rule doesn’t pertain to the more than 1 million workers employed by those manufacturers who make its products, many of whom must submit to these scans to enter areas where new Apple products are made. The exemption for Apple employees appears to contrast with the company’s stance that its human rights policy, which contains privacy provisions, extends to “business partners and people at every level of its supply chain.”

Whilst Apple leaks do often come from within the walls of Cupertino or Apple’s own operation, it is also understood that many leaks, such as CAD renders of products, often come from Apple’s supply chain.

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