Apple pays millions to end customer's explicit images leak lawsuit

Posted:
in iPhone edited June 7
Apple has paid millions of dollars to settle a lawsuit with a student, after Pegatron employees leaked explicit photographs and videos from her iPhone that was sent in for repair.




In 2016, an unnamed student in Oregon sent her iPhone to Apple, as part of the repairs process. The device was then handed over to a Pegatron facility in Sacramento, California, where it was examined by technicians.

Two of the technicians then posted "10 photos of her in various stages of undress and a sex video" to the woman's Facebook account, to make it seem like she posted the images herself, according to The Telegraph. The explicit content was later removed once friends of the victim told her of their publication.

The woman then threatened a lawsuit for the invasion of privacy and emotional distress, with the additional warning there would be "negative media publicity" due to the lawsuit's existence. Apple provided a "multimillion-dollar" settlement of an undisclosed size, following a demand for $5 million.

Confidentiality provisions as part of the settlement prevented further discussion of the case or the amount paid. However, the existence of the lawsuit still surfaced due to it being referenced by another lawsuit.

A dispute arose between insurers and Pegatron, as the insurers refused to pay out for the settlement amount Pegatron had reimbursed Apple. Though Apple wasn't identified in that second lawsuit, only mentioned as a "customer" to maintain confidentiality, another unrelated lawsuit with Apple referred to previous legal activity.

When asked, Apple confirmed the incident occurred.

The incident prompted Apple to perform an "exhaustive" investigation, resulting in the firing of the two workers.

"We take the privacy and security of our customers' data extremely seriously and have a number of protocols in place to ensure data is protected throughout the repair process," Apple said in a statement. "When we learned of this egregious violation of our policies at one of our vendors in 2016, we took immediate action and have since continued to strengthen our vendor protocols. "

Follow all of WWDC 2021 with comprehensive AppleInsider coverage of the week-long event from June 7 through June 11, including details on iOS 15, iPadOS 15, watchOS 8, macOS Monterey and more.

Stay on top of all Apple news right from your HomePod. Say, "Hey, Siri, play AppleInsider," and you'll get the latest AppleInsider Podcast. Or ask your HomePod mini for "AppleInsider Daily" instead and you'll hear a fast update direct from our news team. And, if you're interested in Apple-centric home automation, say "Hey, Siri, play HomeKit Insider," and you'll be listening to our newest specialized podcast in moments.
«1

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 23
    crowleycrowley Posts: 8,242member
    Being fired seems like a very mild punishment, I hope the authorities got involved too.
    macxpressdewmedope_ahmineelijahgbyronljony0
  • Reply 2 of 23
    crowley said:
    Being fired seems like a very mild punishment, I hope the authorities got involved too.
    Exactly.  And since the activity was in fact illegal, I'm hoping the authorities are just developing a case, but given the time frame, I suspect not.  Which is unfortunate.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 23
    indieshackindieshack Posts: 271member
    crowley said:
    Being fired seems like a very mild punishment, I hope the authorities got involved too.
    Couldn’t agree more.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 23
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 5,159member
    crowley said:
    Being fired seems like a very mild punishment, I hope the authorities got involved too.
    Hope so...disgusting. I feel for the person affected by this. :( 
    JFC_PAbyronlwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 23
    robabarobaba Posts: 125member
    Trying to get other guys not to be assholes is exhausting.  No doubt, we’ll get somebody here trying to defend these guys as “not understanding” the ramifications of their actions, but clearly they did here.  It was clearly against company policy, and they tried to make it look like it was “self-published” on Facebook.  

    They should have had the book thrown against them, but instead all parties agreed to keep it hush hush.  Not what I would have chosen.
    Oferwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 23
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,586member
    crowley said:
    Being fired seems like a very mild punishment, I hope the authorities got involved too.
    Exactly.  And since the activity was in fact illegal, I'm hoping the authorities are just developing a case, but given the time frame, I suspect not.  Which is unfortunate.

    We can't assume the activity was illegal under the criminal code in California.  In fact, I suspect it was not.  
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 23
    Somebody should publish the pictures of those two sleazebags on Facebook.
    elijahgrundhvidbyronlwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 8 of 23
    sdw2001 said:
    crowley said:
    Being fired seems like a very mild punishment, I hope the authorities got involved too.
    Exactly.  And since the activity was in fact illegal, I'm hoping the authorities are just developing a case, but given the time frame, I suspect not.  Which is unfortunate.

    We can't assume the activity was illegal under the criminal code in California.  In fact, I suspect it was not.  
    I have no doubt that laws were broken, even if they were only copyright or authorized access laws.
    elijahgwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 23
    crowleycrowley Posts: 8,242member
    sdw2001 said:
    crowley said:
    Being fired seems like a very mild punishment, I hope the authorities got involved too.
    Exactly.  And since the activity was in fact illegal, I'm hoping the authorities are just developing a case, but given the time frame, I suspect not.  Which is unfortunate.

    We can't assume the activity was illegal under the criminal code in California.  In fact, I suspect it was not.  
    Seems to clearly fit under California’s revenge porn laws. Only a misdemeanour, but an imprisonable one.
    gatorguyOfer
  • Reply 10 of 23
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,586member
    crowley said:
    sdw2001 said:
    crowley said:
    Being fired seems like a very mild punishment, I hope the authorities got involved too.
    Exactly.  And since the activity was in fact illegal, I'm hoping the authorities are just developing a case, but given the time frame, I suspect not.  Which is unfortunate.

    We can't assume the activity was illegal under the criminal code in California.  In fact, I suspect it was not.  
    Seems to clearly fit under California’s revenge porn laws. Only a misdemeanour, but an imprisonable one.

    Not knowing CA's laws, I just looked it up.  At first, it appeared to fit the 2013 revenue porn law.  But, I don't think it does.  One of the criticisms of that law is that it apparently only covers pictures taken by someone other than the victim.  That may be the loophole here.  
  • Reply 11 of 23
    JFC_PAJFC_PA Posts: 563member
    sdw2001 said:
    crowley said:
    Being fired seems like a very mild punishment, I hope the authorities got involved too.
    Exactly.  And since the activity was in fact illegal, I'm hoping the authorities are just developing a case, but given the time frame, I suspect not.  Which is unfortunate.

    We can't assume the activity was illegal under the criminal code in California.  In fact, I suspect it was not.  
    If the student was under 18 there are serious felonies in play. Child pornography carries a lot of prison time. 
  • Reply 12 of 23
    boboliciousbobolicious Posts: 820member
    ... is this a good reminder to wipe a device (if possible) prior to servicing, and perhaps yet another argument for right to repair and user replaceable macOS storage drives ...?
    Ofer
  • Reply 13 of 23
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 32,999member
    sdw2001 said:
    crowley said:
    Being fired seems like a very mild punishment, I hope the authorities got involved too.
    Exactly.  And since the activity was in fact illegal, I'm hoping the authorities are just developing a case, but given the time frame, I suspect not.  Which is unfortunate.

    We can't assume the activity was illegal under the criminal code in California.  In fact, I suspect it was not.  
    I suspect you’re incorrect.
  • Reply 14 of 23
    sdw2001 said:
    crowley said:
    sdw2001 said:
    crowley said:
    Being fired seems like a very mild punishment, I hope the authorities got involved too.
    Exactly.  And since the activity was in fact illegal, I'm hoping the authorities are just developing a case, but given the time frame, I suspect not.  Which is unfortunate.

    We can't assume the activity was illegal under the criminal code in California.  In fact, I suspect it was not.  
    Seems to clearly fit under California’s revenge porn laws. Only a misdemeanour, but an imprisonable one.

    Not knowing CA's laws, I just looked it up.  At first, it appeared to fit the 2013 revenue porn law.  But, I don't think it does.  One of the criticisms of that law is that it apparently only covers pictures taken by someone other than the victim.  That may be the loophole here.  
    There are likely a few areas where they could be criminally prosecuted. 

    Since they uploaded the the images and video to Facebook they could have potentially exposed them to minors which would put Penal Code 288.2 PC in play. At a federal level the Child Online Protection act would likely apply as well. 

    Also, the pictures are her property and are copyright protected when they are created. So the individuals in this case would be liable for copyright violations. 

    edited June 7
  • Reply 15 of 23
    Why do companies always put out gaslighting statements like this one from Apple when they do something unacceptable? A company does some bad thing and then a reporter contacts them for the story and they put out a statement saying that they don't do bad things like that. It is usually something like "we always put our customers first" when they clearly don't. I am not singling Apple out for this as it seems all companies do it. It must be taught in business school or something.
  • Reply 16 of 23
    This looks like Apple carrying the can for something it absolutely wouldn’t condone or even know anything about.  It appears anonymity was agreed and then breached so Apple loses out again. The sum paid seems totally disproportionate as well. There are so many instances of very large companies paying out, simply because they have money. It’s not very fair.
    MacProwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 17 of 23
    mknelsonmknelson Posts: 790member
    Why do companies always put out gaslighting statements like this one from Apple when they do something unacceptable? A company does some bad thing and then a reporter contacts them for the story and they put out a statement saying that they don't do bad things like that. It is usually something like "we always put our customers first" when they clearly don't. I am not singling Apple out for this as it seems all companies do it. It must be taught in business school or something.
    You mean this: ""We take the privacy and security of our customers' data extremely seriously and have a number of protocols in place to ensure data is protected throughout the repair process," Apple said in a statement. "When we learned of this egregious violation of our policies at one of our vendors in 2016, we took immediate action and have since continued to strengthen our vendor protocols. ""?

    Did you catch that it was Pegatron employees at a Pegatron facility that did the "bad thing"? How does that make Apple's statement gaslighting? They aren't denying what happened, they are agreeing it happened and took action.
    rundhvidwatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 23
    MarvinMarvin Posts: 14,512moderator
    In 2016, an unnamed student in Oregon sent her iPhone to Apple, as part of the repairs process. The device was then handed over to a Pegatron facility in Sacramento, California, where it was examined by technicians. 

    Two of the technicians then posted "10 photos of her in various stages of undress and a sex video" to the woman's Facebook account, to make it seem like she posted the images herself, according to The Telegraph. The explicit content was later removed once friends of the victim told her of their publication. 
    According to some reports, "often, Apple service centre executives ask users to provide them a device’s pass code, which may be required at certain stages during repair". This seems really open to abuse if true and I don't see why it would be necessary for a hardware repair.

    Assuming it's the case that hardware repairs at some point need the device unlocked, the software needs better protections. Banking apps usually allow the app to be locked on leaving the app. The photos app doesn't necessarily need to have this by default but it could have a more visible way of securing photos and videos behind biometrics and/or pin code. iOS can even use on-device AI to detect nudity or just NSFW content and have a popup that recommends protecting it behind some security.

    For repairs, the workers should only be allowed to boot the device into a safe mode that isn't allowed to access user's apps. Maybe something in iCloud could generate a second unlock code. On setting up an account on iOS, both would be generated. Then when a device failed, the user would get the repair code from iCloud to give to the repair people.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 23
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,586member
    sdw2001 said:
    crowley said:
    sdw2001 said:
    crowley said:
    Being fired seems like a very mild punishment, I hope the authorities got involved too.
    Exactly.  And since the activity was in fact illegal, I'm hoping the authorities are just developing a case, but given the time frame, I suspect not.  Which is unfortunate.

    We can't assume the activity was illegal under the criminal code in California.  In fact, I suspect it was not.  
    Seems to clearly fit under California’s revenge porn laws. Only a misdemeanour, but an imprisonable one.

    Not knowing CA's laws, I just looked it up.  At first, it appeared to fit the 2013 revenue porn law.  But, I don't think it does.  One of the criticisms of that law is that it apparently only covers pictures taken by someone other than the victim.  That may be the loophole here.  
    There are likely a few areas where they could be criminally prosecuted. 

    Since they uploaded the the images and video to Facebook they could have potentially exposed them to minors which would put Penal Code 288.2 PC in play. At a federal level the Child Online Protection act would likely apply as well. 

    Also, the pictures are her property and are copyright protected when they are created. So the individuals in this case would be liable for copyright violations. 

    Are we just making things up now?  We are talking about criminal liability here.  There is no way someone is going to get prosecuted for exposing minors to porn because they put it on a platform minors may also use.  There is no way that would stand up to a 1st Amendment challenge.  Additionally, the Child Internet Protection Act is not about criminal penalties for posting porn.  It's about protection requirements for public access points like schools and libraries.  Your copyright comment might be silliest of all.  I won't even bother addressing that.   
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 23
    sdw2001sdw2001 Posts: 17,586member
    sdw2001 said:
    crowley said:
    Being fired seems like a very mild punishment, I hope the authorities got involved too.
    Exactly.  And since the activity was in fact illegal, I'm hoping the authorities are just developing a case, but given the time frame, I suspect not.  Which is unfortunate.

    We can't assume the activity was illegal under the criminal code in California.  In fact, I suspect it was not.  
    I have no doubt that laws were broken, even if they were only copyright or authorized access laws.

    Well, I haven't found any yet.  Have you?  I'm also unaware of any criminal prosecution.  
    watto_cobra
Sign In or Register to comment.