Why Apple doesn’t prosecute factory workers who leak iPhone secrets

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iPhone 11 schematics The person who leaked this purported iPhone 11 schematic almost certainly wasn’t arrested for industrial espionage.
Photo: Weibo

When the casing or another component for an unreleased iPhone leaks before the official announcement it’s often because someone at an assembly plant in China snuck it out. Apple always does its best to track down the culprit and the punishment is… generally not much.

And there’s a good reason why.

Which isn’t to say Apple doesn’t take these kinds of leaks seriously. It even formed the New Product Security Team (NPS), a group dedicated to stopping them, according to The Information.

When images of released iPhones or iPads appear on the web, the NPS go into action. And its supposedly been fairly good at tracking down the sources for past leaks. For example, when 180 casings for the then-unreleased iPhone 5C were stolen and put on the black market, Apple found out and bought all of them.

Police aren‘t involved

After the NPS discovers which worker has stolen Apple’s property and revealed a closely-held company secret to the world, the person is rarely arrested because it would garner too much additional attention.

Calling in the police would confirm that the leaked information about an upcoming Apple device is absolutely true. Before that, it’s just another rumor.

Also, Apple would need to provide Chinese police detailed information on its unannounced product as evidence to be used against the thief. This would have to happen at a time that the company is trying to keep that device a secret.

So the person who absconded with the components is just charged their street value. Apple can‘t even fire them if they work for one of the myriad third-party Asian parts suppliers. Of course, the company surely asks their employer to sack them.

Perhaps this is why we already know so much about the iPhone 11, even though it’s not supposed to launch until September.

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