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Apple's Internal Memo Warning Employees Not To Leak To The Press Leaks To The Press

from the of-course-it-did dept

Whatever the actual numbers, it seems like some hefty percentage of technology news revolves around leaks of one kind or another. Whether it concerns government, corporate, or legal proceedings information leaking to the public, it happens enough that at this point the operating posture of any organization should probably be to expect leaks, rather than flailing at modernity and trying to stop them. Hell, if the White House can't keep what seems like literally anything under wraps, what hope does the average business have?

Apple, of course, is not an average company. And, yet, when the company put out an internal memo warning its employees not to do the leaking, that memo almost immediately leaked to the press.

On Friday, Bloomberg News published what it described as an "internal blog" post in full. The memo warned that Apple "employees, contractors, or suppliers—do get caught, and they’re getting caught faster than ever."

The post also reportedly noted that, "in some cases," leakers "face jail time and massive fines for network intrusion and theft of trade secrets both classified as federal crimes," adding that, in 2017, "Apple caught 29 leakers, and of those, 12 were arrested."

Memos like this set off a delightfully oppressive mood within the organizations that send them. Part of the reason for that is that the practice of leaking is so widespread so as to make the selective persecution of any leaker seem callous and unfair. Add to that the simple fact that well-timed strategic leaks are practically marketing SOP in many larger organizations and this seems doubly so. And, finally, I cannot be the only one struck by how low Apple's catch-rate feels within the memo itself. 29 leakers caught in a year? That has to be some unimpressive fraction of the actual leakers that exist.

Anyone who might want to argue the points above needs to make that argument in the context of a reality in which this scare-memo itself leaked to the press. That this occurred only buttresses the argument that battling all leaks all the time is a losing battle. And if that's the case, then the selective enforcement of anti-leaking policies will only come off as both confusing and capricious.

Not to mention a giant waste of time and money, compared with incentivizing employees to leak only when its beneficial to the company.

Filed Under: journalism, leaks, press
Companies: apple

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 17 Apr 2018 @ 8:11pm

    Context required

    29 might seem like nothing, or it might be huge. It depends greatly on how many unwanted leaks Apple had in a year. For starters, any leak that could reasonably be expected to be good PR is probably a "good" leak and is not seriously investigated (and may have been encouraged). Any leak that hurt the company is a "bad" leak and might prompt an inquiry. Even then, if the leak wasn't embarrassing enough to be worth the time to find the leaker, it might be quietly ignored. So to decide whether a catch-rate of 29 leakers is impressive or pathetic, we need to know how many "bad" leaks the company had, how many of those were bad enough for management to care, and how many of the serious leaks trace to a repeat leaker. If there were one or a few serial leakers responsible for multiple substantial leaks before their detection, 29 could still be a good rate even if the company had plenty of bad leaks.

    I agree with the author that 29 seems like a very low count of prospective-leakers in a company the size and type of Apple.

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