Now employees are coming
forward and revealing a tale of how Apple has transformed from a
hippie haven founded by a free-spirited hackers (Steve Jobs and Steve
Wozniak) to a land of secret spies and invasive surprise searches.
For Apple's executive leadership, its unusual approach is merely a
design to protect the trade secrets that make it arguably the hottest
maker of mobile gadgets. However, to most the company's tactics
enter into the realm of paranoia and abuse.
According to Apple
employees past and present, Apple maintains a so-called "Worldwide
Loyalty Team". Composed of moles spying at its
headquarters, the team's members pose as normal employees only to
snitch on those who are suspected to be leaking info.
a former Apple, Inc. employee who goes by the name Tom in an
interview with Gizmodo, "Apple has these moles working
everywhere, especially in departments where leaks are suspected.
Management is not aware of them. Once they suspect a leak, the
special forces—as we call them—will walk in the office at
any hour, especially in the mornings. They will contact whoever was
the most senior manager in the building, and ask them to coordinate
The "Loyalty Team" agents then
proceed to search employees' belongings and confiscate their phones,
while the management coordinates the search. As employees are
only allowed to have company-granted phones on site, its easy for the
agents to analyze the employees' phone history for hints of leaking
During the search employees are order to turn on
their screen saver and stare at it. They are not allowed to
instant message, text message, call, or otherwise communicate with
each other. Describes Tom, "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."
When the agents find what
they are looking for, they keep the suspect after work for more
advanced interrogation. Tom states, "I was at several
events. When they find what they are looking for—which they
usually do—the person is asked to stay until the end of the
business day. Then he is asked to leave the premises quietly,
escorted by security. There is a lot that goes behind doors
that I don't really know about. I do know, however, that they really
interrogate people that are serious suspects, intimidating them by
threatening to sue."
All the searches are "voluntary",
though refusal to comply typically will lead to dismissal, according
to Tom. Reportedly the secret agents also engage in a diverse
set of functions including seeding fake images to catch leakers and
discredit the leak machine. They also work to minimize the
internal buzz surrounding significant announcements.
Apple, the revelations of its secret police are beyond bizarre, but
not entirely surprising for the company that exercised secrecy to a
point of compulsion, once killing
one of its largest leak fan-sites for refusing to reveal the
source of its leaks. They seem especially ironic, though,
considering that Apple used a now infamous 1984-themed
commercial to introduce its Macintosh computer in 1984.