Stung by leaks, Apple tightens factory security

From Wayne Ma's "Apple Forbids Facial Scanning of Employees—But Not Factory Workers" ($) posted Wednesday by The Information:

This year, Apple for the first time told manufacturing partners they must do background checks on all employees who work on unreleased products. Those with criminal records must be banned from areas where unreleased products are being developed or assembled, the document said. One manager at a supplier factory in China said Apple had previously asked for background checks on its engineers but not on assembly line workers. For its part, Wistron started doing background checks on all its factory workers after last year’s riot, said the person with knowledge of its operations.

Expanding the use of background checks could be a costly undertaking for Apple’s suppliers, according to that operations manager and a former security manager at another Apple supplier, because they collectively employ between 1.4 million and 1.8 million workers each year in China alone.

Apple also is paying more attention to the movement of sensitive parts in factories. Suppliers already use their own systems, which must be based on Apple’s specific guidelines, to track the location of components inside factories via unique serial numbers and barcode scans. Now, if a component takes an unusually long time to get to its destination, that must trigger internal security alarms, according to the internal Apple document.

Separately, Apple is in the process of upgrading its own computer system, which is installed at some factories, to determine how long parts should remain at one production station before moving to another. The system uses proprietary Apple software on Mac minis to collect and analyze manufacturing data, according to the person familiar with Wistron’s operations in India. This kind of monitoring can help Apple determine whether manufacturers are cutting corners, which Apple sometimes accuses even its biggest partners of doing, according to people familiar with the systems. The system also can prevent the theft of components, those people say. It’s unclear whether this Apple system is used in tandem with the factories’ parts-tracking system.

Additionally, the new Apple security guidelines require guards at checkpoints to keep detailed logs of the movement of workers carrying sensitive parts from one area to another and must notify the factory’s security team if they don’t complete the transit within the expected period of time, according to the document.

The new guidelines also require factory visitors to show government-issued IDs; previously they didn’t have to. In addition, security cameras must now capture all four sides of transport vehicles when they are parked at the facilities. And video recordings that show the destruction of prototypes and defective parts—which are scrapped to prevent leaks—should now be retained for at least 180 days.

My take: The irony, which Wayne Ma leads with, is that...

Apple recently told its manufacturing partners that they can no longer collect biometric data such as fingerprints or facial scans of Apple employees who visit their facilities.


  1. Jerry Doyle said:
    As PED denotes, much irony exists throughout this new policy described by Wayne Ma. Workers privacy does not matter, but employees privacy is a fundamental right. Since when did employees not violate company policies? We read just last week of an Apple employee in HQs being prosecuted for stealing and transferring privilege industrial secrets. All employees & workers should be treated in a “fair & equitable” manner. Are the workers considered less moral, unworthy and deemed unfit than employees? They are humans. Perhaps we should consider workers’ ethnic background, their religious affiliation, their sexual orientation, their disability status, etc. Why is a rehabilitated individual who has served his or her obligation to society for a past crime viewed in such a discriminatory fashion? I’m disturbed over the conduct of criminal background checks of workers which to me is discriminatory. If an individual is rehabilitated and doing his or her job tasks then what happened in the past stays in the past and is not used for potential stereotyping. What is germane is whether he/she/they do their job tasks consistently with stated company policy.

    March 25, 2021
  2. The security measures at N.A. logistics facilities that sort shipments of iPhones and other valuable packages, like pharmaceuticals, are equally draconian. Face & ID Scans, CCTV, background checks, drug testing and metal detectors are in place to make sure shipments get to their destinations. Labor shortages are common as a result of these requirements.

    March 25, 2021

Leave a Reply