In a nutshell: Apple has paid a multi-million dollar settlement to a woman after iPhone technicians posted explicit images and videos of her to social media using a phone she sent in for repair.
According to legal filings, first reported by The Telegraph, a 21-year-old student in Oregon sent her iPhone to a Sacramento, California repair center in 2016 operated by Apple-approved contractor Pegatron. While there, two technicians used the device to upload ’10 photos of her in various stages of undress and a sex video’ to Facebook and other internet locations. The employees were subsequently fired.
The way the images and video were uploaded made it appear that the woman had posted the content herself, but she was only made aware of what happened when friends on Facebook saw them. The incident caused her “severe emotional distress.”
The woman sued Apple, which was identified only as “customer” in the lawsuit. The matter became public when the case was referenced in a new, unrelated case involving the Cupertino firm and Pegatron. Filings say the customer was “clearly Apple.”
Apple in a statement confirmed that the incident took place. “When we learned of this egregious violation of our policies at one of our vendors in 2016, we took immediate action and have since continued to strengthen our vendor protocols,” a spokesperson said.
The exact amount Apple paid out to the woman is unclear. Her attorneys were asking for $5 million.
The revelation casts a shadow over a company that has long prided itself on the privacy it offers customers, with many new privacy-focused features revealed at WWDC 2021. It also poses questions over Apple’s insistence that only approved retailers repair the company’s devices, though it has eased those policies in recent years.
This isn’t the first time Apple has been in trouble over employees and contractors accessing private information. An Australian Apple store fired staff in 2016 after claims they stole intimate images from customers’ phones. A year earlier, a man sued the company for “wiping his life” after a store deleted years of data from his iPhone.