Apple whistleblower files spying complaint in UK Business

Britain’s information watchdog is investigating allegations that Apple may have accessed personal information on workers’ phones after a privacy complaint was made by a whistleblower.

Ashley Gjøvik, a former senior Apple engineer, has filed a 54-page privacy lawsuit against the iPhone maker alleging illegal data collection and breach of employee privacy over “years and multiple countries”.

In the filing, which was filed with the UK’s Office of the Data Protection Commissioner (ICO) and its counterpart in Brussels, Ms Gjøvik claimed she had publicly raised concerns that Apple “pressures its employees to participate in invasive data collection procedures, including ear/ear canal scans.”

She also accused the company of using an app on employees’ iPhones that “automatically took photos/videos whenever it ‘thought it saw a face’.”

In the filing, Ms Gjøvik said, “I respectfully request that you investigate the issues I have raised and initiate a broader investigation into these matters within Apple’s global headquarters.”

The complaint was also lodged with the Data Protection Commission in Ireland and London-based Big Brother Watch, the privacy campaign organisation.

An ICO spokesperson said: “We are aware of this matter and will assess the information provided.”

Ms Gjøvik was fired by Apple last September for allegedly breaking company rules against leaking confidential information.

She said she began raising workplace safety concerns in March last year, including those related to Apple’s policies on how it can track and monitor employees’ work phones.

Ms Gjøvik also alleged that she had been bullied and harassed by her manager and other colleagues, in a campaign dubbed Apple’s “MeToo” moment.

It is believed to be the first time she has attempted to take on the notoriously secretive tech giant in the UK.

The campaign has drawn Apple into a growing wave of employee activism affecting its Silicon Valley rivals. In 2018, more than 20,000 Google employees staged a walkout against forced arbitration agreements and alleged payouts related to sexual harassment.

An Apple spokesperson said: “We are and always have been deeply committed to creating and sustaining a positive and inclusive workplace. We take all concerns seriously and thoroughly investigate each time a concern is raised and, out of respect for the privacy of those involved, we do not discuss employee-specific matters.

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This notice was published: 2022-04-10 08:00:00

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