Apple has had 12 employees arrested over the course of last year for leaking internal information about future software plans, according to a memo leaked (ironically) today, spotted by Bloomberg. The company said in a strongly worded memo that it had caught 29 people who leaked information last year, and 12 of them were arrested. Those 29 people included employees, contractors, and supply chain partners. Leakers do not simply lose their jobs at Apple, the memo reads, In some cases, they face jail time and massive fines for network intrusion and theft of trade secrets, both classified as federal crimes. The memo attempts to curb internal leaks by warning employees that reporters and media outlets may try to befriend them, but the cost of a leak means reporters earn more web traffic while the employees could lose their jobs. While it may seem flattering to be approached, its important to remember that youre getting played, it stated, adding that once a person loses their job for leaking, finding employment elsewhere could be hard. Earlier this year, Apple caught an employee who leaked details of an internal meeting where Apples senior vice president of engineering Craig Federighi informed employees that certain software features in iOS would be delayed. Last year, another employee was fired for leaking details about the iPhone X, iPad Pro, and AirPods to 9to5Mac.
In an internal memo to employees, Apple threatened severe consequences for leaking confidential company information – reminding staff that those who leak can lose their jobs, have difficult finding future employment, and even get arrested. Last year, Apple claimed to have busted 29 leakers, 12 of whom were arrested. The memo itself was leaked, and its content was published by Bloomberg this afternoon. Apple has always cultivated a culture of confidentially about its work, as a means of maintaining a competitive advantage over the competition. Given how large Apple has grown over the years – the memo says there are 135,000 people working there – its become more difficult to keep things under wraps. By the time a new iPhone launches, for example, people already know what to expect. That can give rivals a head start on catching up with Apple, ahead of an actual public unveiling of the device. Leaks can also impact sales of current devices, as consumers hold off on buying as they know something better is soon to arrive. Apple more recently has had problems with leaked iOS source code, as well as leaked details about the iPhone 8 and X, Apple Watch Series 3, Apple TV 4K, HomePod, and more. And that was just in 2017. The new memo is not the first time Apple has tried to plug its leaks. Last year, the company held a meeting with employees where it discussed how it plans to prevent leaks, talked about how leakers were caught, and answered employees questions. That meeting was secretly recorded and leaked to the press too. In reality, some leaks can be harder to track or stop. A company-wide meeting or email, for instance, could be leaked by anyone. The new memo begins by informing Apple employees that the person who leaked details about Apples software roadmap earlier this year was caught and fired last month: Last month, Apple caught and fired the employee responsible for leaking details from an internal, confidential meeting about Apples software roadmap. Hundreds of software engineers were in attendance, and thousands more within the organization received details of its proceedings. One person betrayed their trust. The employee who leaked the meeting to a reporter later told Apple investigators that he did it because he thought he wouldnt be discovered. But people who leak — whether theyre Apple employees, contractors or suppliers — do get caught and theyre getting caught faster than ever. The memo then goes on to stress how damaging leaks are to the company itself, those who worked on a project, and other employees. It reminds employees that when theyre approached by press, analysts and bloggers theyre getting played. The establishment of a very us-versus-them culture when dealing with outsiders is notable because it means Apple employees may fear becoming whistleblowers. Employees will likely also fear leaking to correct inaccurate information being passed around publicly. Today, there are reports that Apples own comms teams wont respond to, when asked by press – unless the report reaches a critical mass, or worse – is unflattering to Apple. But unlike at other companies where a PM or staffer may reach out to privately correctly a detail or give background outside of official channels, Apple staff would be fired for crossing that line. The memo also points to more examples of how Apples internal security has caught people who believed they could get away with it – including the person who leaked the link to the gold master of iOS 11, and those who leaked within the supply chain. It concludes by sharing the news that 12 of the leakers in 2017 were arrested. 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 memo read. These people not only lose their jobs, they can face extreme difficulty finding employment elsewhere. Theres a certain kind of person who will find language like this a challenge. But the majority will likely take heed. The memo was published as an internal company blog post. The full memo can be read on Bloombergs site.