Tim Cook Tells Employees That Apple Is Hunting Down Leakers

Photo: Stephen Lam (Getty Images)

Apple doesn’t like its secrets to leave the premises, so it goes without saying that the company really doesn’t like leakers. This week, CEO Tim Cook had a chilling message for leakers: You do not belong here, and we will find you.

According to the Verge, the Apple CEO was peeved because two announcements he made at an all-hands meeting last week on the company’s policy for unvaccinated employees—who will have to be tested for covid-19 frequently—and the Epic v. Apple antitrust case leaked to the media shortly afterward.

In an email, obtained by the Verge, sent to Apple employees on Tuesday, Cook said he had heard from many employees who were frustrated about the recent leaks of the all-hands meeting. He was frustrated, too. Additionally, Cook pointed out that this comes on the heels of leaks on its annual September product launch.

“These opportunities to connect as a team are really important. But they only work if we can trust that the content will stay within Apple,” Cook wrote. “I want to reassure you that we are doing everything in our power to identify those who leaked. As you know, we do not tolerate disclosures of confidential information, whether it’s product IP or the details of a confidential meeting. We know that the leakers constitute a small number of people. We also know that people who leak confidential information do not belong here.”

In recent months, Apple has been cracking down on people who sell stolen iPhone prototypes, which are believed to be snatched by Chinese employees who sneak them out of factories, on social media. The company sent a cease and desist letter to one seller and told them to stop acquiring, selling, and advertising the devices. It also requested a list of anyone who had provided the seller with the prototypes.

As to why Apple hates leaks so much—besides the obvious answer, money—the company has stated that leaks can affect accessory manufacturers. These companies could, for example, create accessories that don’t fit the final version of the product based on information from leaks.

Apple also gets mad because leaks mean that it can’t surprise people at product launches, which it alleges is an important part of the company’s DNA.

At the end of the day, Apple has a right to be upset and take action to prevent leaks. However, I think it’s important to have perspective and take appropriate measures for each situation. It’s one thing to leak an iPhone prototype, but it’s another to leak the company’s covid-19 testing policy, which would have probably come to light anyway, or comments made after a trial (although the latter is a bit more sensitive).

Nonetheless, I guess Cook is going for the “scare them into never leaking again” approach.

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