eXtensions - Thursday 8 June 2017

Cassandra: Apple Staff Alleged to be Selling User Data in China - Comment

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By Graham K. Rogers


Some reports emerged earlier today about private Apple customer data being sold on the market and that police had made arrests after an investigation. It now appears, according to an AFP report carried in Singapore Business Times that some of those responsible may be Apple staff. So far 22 have been arrested and the report states that 20 of these were employed by Apple. Reporting earlier, Roger Fingas (AppleInsider) wrote that those involved were in the province of Zhejiang, calling them, "Apple distributors". There is no confirmation from Apple at this stage, nor has there been any offical press release at this time.

This is bad news for Apple who are coming to the end of an otherwise particularly good week with announcements at WWDC, held in San Jose, some of which were directly aimed at the Chinese market. While some saw negatives in the last few months with the higher sales of native-made phones there, and there had been some government resistance, it was seen as a high-priority market for iPhones and other Apple products.

Apple had always recruited its staff carefully in China (and anywhere else for that matter) so the company is sure to ask some searching questions about how those involved had access to such data, whether they are directly employed by Apple or not. Heads are sure to roll, and not just those of the 20 or so allegedly involved in this dishonesty.

I would expect a major adjustment of staff, from the executive level downwards, in the next few months if anyone from Apple's own operations are involved. It can also be expected that high-level Cupertino executives will be heading towards Beijing, by the end of this week or early next for analysis and damage-limitation.

Graham K. Rogers teaches at the Faculty of Engineering, Mahidol University in Thailand. He wrote in the Bangkok Post, Database supplement on IT subjects. For the last seven years of Database he wrote a column on Apple and Macs. After 3 years writing a column in the Life supplement, he is now no longer associated with the Bangkok Post. He can be followed on Twitter (@extensions_th)



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