updated 08:00 pm EST, Tue December 15, 2009
Team of moles allegedly watch HQ and retail stores
Apple's Worldwide Loyalty Team allegedly uses lockdowns and cellphone searches to root out individuals that may be responsible for information leaks, according to a source, known only as Tom, who contacted Gizmodo. The unconfirmed report suggests the team, reportedly known as the Apple Gestapo by many employees, is composed of investigators that keep a close eye on employees from the company's Cupertino headquarters and even the retail stores.
"Apple has these moles working everywhere, especially in departments where leaks are suspected," Tom claims. The management is allegedly unaware of the team on a day-to-day basis, although the most senior manager in the building will be asked to help coordinate a lockdown, known as an 'operation,' if a leak is suspected.
During a lockdown, the loyalty team allegedly supervises as the managers collect cellphones from each employee. Standalone cameras are not an issue, as they are already banned from the company headquarters. Each iPhone is backed-up to a computer, while devices from other manufacturers are thoroughly searched for recent pictures, text messages, or other potentially incriminating evidence.
Employees are reportedly required to activate the screensavers on their computers, preventing them from communicating with other employees or outsiders. If an individual needs to make a phone call, they must ask for permission and allow the call to be monitored.
"It is like a gag order, and if the employee does not want to participate, they are basically asked to leave and never come back," Tom said. Employees are also asked to sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs).
Suspected sources of leaks are allegedly interrogated and intimidated with threats of legal action. Apple has also been accused of providing fake images to help pinpoint certain employees or departments, while the Worldwide Loyalty Team monitors all of the corporate e-mail correspondence.
A separate report was critical of Apple and its overseas supplier after a factory worker committed suicide, allegedly following an interrogation relating to a missing iPhone prototype. It is unknown if the investigation involved Apple's supposed Worldwide Loyalty Team.