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.