Apple employees accuse company of privacy intrusion and discrimination

Apple employees rage against privacy intrusions after being made to sign up to iCloud and demand the tech titan acknowledges its ‘gender, racial, disability, and heteronormative biases’

  • Apple employees say they have to sync their personal iClouds to their work devices, which allows Apple to search through their personal information 
  • They say the information has been used against them in ‘hundreds’ of cases of ‘abuse, discrimination, and harassment’
  • These were among the highlights in Friday’s open letter to CEO Tim Cook 
  • Workers laid out a list of requests to correct privacy concerns and discrimination biases that could lead to wage gaps and lack of opportunity  

Apple employees have written a furious open letter blasting the tech giant for making them connect their personal online storage to work devices – and ordered the firm to acknowledge its ‘heteronormative biases.’ 

The condemnation was laid out in Friday’s open letter to CEO Tim Cook and included a list of requests to correct privacy concerns and address ‘gender, racial, disability, and heteronormative biases’ at the California-headquartered computing behemoth. 

‘Apple prides itself on its privacy policies, yet it feels as workers, our privacy is of no concern,’ the employees wrote in the letter. 

‘Furthermore, “no reasonable expectation of privacy,” is a belittling policy that denies all workers the benefit of the doubt, and a sense of safety and trust in the workplace.’

Apple and CEO Tim Cook (pictured) is a company that prides itself on customers’ privacy but allegedly doesn’t extend the same courtesy to its workers

Apple employees say they have to sync their iClouds to their work devices, which allows Apple to search through their personal information and use it against them

Among the workers’ requests is an iCloud opt-out for those using a corporate email account. 

iCloud is Apple’s online platform that allows users to store personal data including photos and videos, so that they can retrieve it if the device the material was originally stored on – such as a phone or iPad – breaks, is upgraded, or gets lost. 

The letter was published as Apple announced it was pausing controversial plans to scan users’ iCloud content for child pornography which it would then report to police, after it was claimed that rule could be exploited by governments to invade Apple users’ privacy. 

Workers also called for an audit of performance reviews ‘for gender, racial, disability, and heteronormative biases that may lead to wage gaps and a lack of opportunity and compensation.’ 

They argue this empowers workers to negotiate fair wages in their markets. 

Heteronormative relates to a world view that promotes heterosexuality as the ‘normal’ or preferred sexual orientation, even though Cook – one of the world’s most powerful CEOs – is gay.   

Despite Cook’s sexual orientation, Apple workers claim the company has a toxic environment replete with harassment and discrimination. 

The open letter was just the latest in a recent wave of worker activism that began airing the company’s dirty laundry on #AppleToo’s website, which was set up within the last week to address workplace discrimination and wage imbalance. 

Apple CEO Tim Cook is openly gay, but workers say heteronormative, gender, racial disability biases lead to wage gaps  

The Apple Park campus stands in this aerial photograph taken above Cupertino, California

‘For too long, Apple has evaded public scrutiny,’ the website’s introduction says. 

‘The truth is that for many Apple workers – a reality faced disproportionately by our Black, Indigenous and other colleagues from minoritized racial, gender and historically marginalized groups of people – the culture of secrecy creates an opaque, intimidating fortress. 

‘When we press for accountability and redress to the persistent injustices we witness or experience in our workplace, we are faced with a pattern of isolation, degradation, and gaslighting.’ 

The U.S. national labor agency is investigating two charges of harassment and discrimination – filed on August 26 and September 1. 

The Apple Workers #AppleToo Twitter page said on August 30 that ‘75% of the stories we’ve received involved some form of discrimination, and nearly half involved reports of sexism, retaliation and HR reports that were dismissed. 

‘1/4 involved racism or ableism. More than a third involved harassment or assault, the majority of which was sexual.’  


This is the full letter from Apple employees to CEO Tim Cook and senior leadership

In June, the firm was the latest blue chip company to be hit by an employee revolt over demand to return to the office. 

In their response letter, Apple employees took umbrage with Cook’s remarks.

‘We’ve come to look forward to working as we are now, without the daily need to return to the office,’ the pro-remote employees wrote.

‘It feels like there is a disconnect between how the executive team thinks about remote / location-flexible work and the lived experiences of many of Apple’s employees.’

The average salary for Apple employees at the corporate headquarters in Cupertino is about $125,000. 

Apple couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.  

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