Is Apple Taking Its Secrecy Too Far?

from the who-broke-the-law? dept

Last month, we wrote about Apple suing some people for releasing secret information about future products. Everyone knows that Apple is pretty secretive, and that they get upset when product info is released outside of Steve Jobs’ big announcements. However, the latest info shows that they’re suing ThinkSecret as well. ThinkSecret is one of the sites that published the info. They didn’t take the info — they simply published the info that someone sent them. Court rulings have shown that simply passing on information does not make you liable for its contents. Apple may have a real complaint against whoever internal at Apple revealed trade secret information. However, suing the site that publicized the info is an over reaction, and is more based out of a desire to intimidate such sites than to actually protect their trade secrets. On the flip side, this may be another example of the Streisand Effect. By pointing out which articles on ThinkSecret were problematic, Apple effectively shined a big bright spotlight on the info they wanted to keep quiet.

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Comments on “Is Apple Taking Its Secrecy Too Far?”

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DT says:

No Subject Given

If ThinkSecret actively encouraged an employee or person with restricted knowledge (ie. under NDA – ie. a contract) of future Apple products to break that contract and disclose that information to ThinkSecret for publication, then Apple has a case against ThinkSecret themselves – in addition to the persons who actually provided the information.

Steve Mueller (user link) says:

Trade Secrets?

They should know better about publishing stuff like that anyway – prototypes/etc are covered under non-disclosure agreements & trade secret laws.

So? I’m sure the Pentagon Papers published back in 1970 were covered by national secrecy, but the New York Times published them, probably knowing they were secret. If ThinkSecret didn’t sign an NDA, didn’t work for Apple and didn’t encourage anybody to break NDAs or other contracts or laws, why shouldn’t they publish the information?

DV Henkel-Wallace says:

Re: Streisand effect

I think Anonymous has it right. I’ve always assumed these lawsuits are a way of building escitement before Macworld. Notice how they always happen shortly before “the big announcement?’ Very rarely do they happen for products that are years away. And how do these things end up? Apple drops them, right?

You might think that Apple would have a bigger impact if they could really surprise people with the macworld unveiling, but that’s too risky — what if people don’t immediately see the impact? Instead, by leaking it early they get people starting to think about why the new announcement is important, which gives the reporters something to write about after the product finally is announced.

I am a happy Mac user, have been for years, and encourage many other people to use Macs. But the Mac “fanatic” thing is a real turn-off, quite frankly.

Ted Brown (user link) says:

Perhaps it's not Think Secret that they want

Jon Gruber at notes that, if Think Secret fight this in court [an expensive proposition], it’s quite likely that the sources of these leaks will have to be named in the settlement. Then Apple can proceed to sue the sources of the leaks, and Think Secret won’t be considered a safe haven anymore.

It’s a good read.

Steve Mueller (user link) says:

Revealing Sources

I didn’t read the daringfireball story (because this is the 21st Century and you didn’t post a live link), but I doubt ThinkSecret would have to reveal their source. If they’re considered part of the “The Press”, they can hide behind the precedent that journalists don’t have to reveal their sources.

Apple would still require a preponderance of evidence that ThinkSecret did something wrong, a more difficult task if the source isn’t known. If they can’t show any wrongdoing without the source, Apple could be out of luck.

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