Apple sues ex employee over iOS Journal app leaks

Posted:
in iOS edited March 28

Apple has filed a lawsuit against a former employee, accusing the ex-iOS software engineer of breaching confidentiality agreements by leaking details of the Journal app before its launch.

Gavel in a courtroom
Gavel in a courtroom



The lawsuit, filed in the Superior Court of California in Santa Clara on March 18, pits Apple against the defendant Andrew Aude. Apple has three complaints against Aude, all surrounding alleged actions where he shared details about Apple products, services, and policies to the media.

Aude "repeatedly flouted his promise to keep Apple's information confidential," the complaint reads, violating an intellectual property agreement (IPA) that prevented his sharing of confidential information with non-Apple employees.

These leaks included "highly sensitive information about Apple's business practices, internal policies, and products," with the recipients including employees at other tech companies and "at least three national journalists."

The leaking of half a dozen policies and products occurred over a five-year period. The leaks included providing the Wall Street Journal a list of finalized features for the Journal app during a phone call in April 2023.

Aude reportedly sent "over 1,400" messages to the same journalist using Signal, the filing first reported by MacRumors states, with the contact referred to by the codename "Homeboy."

Over 10,000 text messages were also allegedly sent to a journalist at The Information. Aude apparently performed at least one cross-continent in-person meeting with them.

The suit also claims that there were leaks concerning the Apple Vision Pro from October 2020, citing a screenshot where he disclosed spatial computing product details to a non-Apple employee.

An unusual justification



Apple declares that Aude's leaks were not performed by accident, with some purposefully intended to do harm. Aude allegedly admitted to Apple that he was violating his obligations to "kill" products and features that he had issues with.

There were also instances where Apple discovered Aude did so for attention and vanity reasons. In one screenshot following one leak and being informed of a publication time, Aude told his contact he "can't wait for chaos to break out before Apple corporate people even wake up."

Apple eventually discovered Aude was a serial leaker in the fall of 2023. Aude supposedly confirmed his guilt by his actions during a November 7 interview.

After denying he leaked information to anyone and claiming he didn't have his Apple-issued iPhone on hand, he then declared mid-interview that he needed to go to the bathroom. During the break, the filing states Aude used his iPhone and permanently deleted evidence from the smartphone, including the Signal app.

A December follow-up interview yielded narrow admissions from Aude, over bits of evidence that he couldn't destroy. Apple later terminated Aude for his misconduct.

"Apple does not bring suit against its former employees lightly," the company writes, after pointing out Aude hadn't "shown remorse" for his actions. Due to his destruction of evidence, Apple doesn't know how far the disclosures ultimately went, and Aude has refused to cooperate further.

"Mr Aude's pattern of disclosing Apple's highly sensitive information to others - wantonly, without regard for his legal or contractual obligations, and for the specific purpose of harming Apple - and his ongoing knowledge of Apple's confidential and proprietary information creates a significant risk that the disclosure will continue," Apple continues in the filing.

The employee's misconduct has forced Apple to act to protect its information, with the lawsuit aimed at preventing Aude from further contract violations in the future.

The complaint accuses Aude of a breach of contract on the IPA, a breach of duty of loyalty, and a breach of contract for a Restricted Stock Unit Award Agreement. A jury trial is requested.





Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 5
    Will AI be in a position to testify against this guy?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 5
    mknelsonmknelson Posts: 1,125member
    Will AI be in a position to testify against this guy?
    Why would they be?

    Wall Street Journal, The Information, sure. But is an AI staffer named as one of the three journalists?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 5
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 12,877member
    He used company equipment for all this. What a maroon 
    ronnnarwhalwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 5
    badmonkbadmonk Posts: 1,293member
    10,000 text messages to a single journalist???  That’s equivalent to how many text messages I have exchanged with my wife over 5 years.  He should’ve been fired for not working.
    randominternetpersonnarwhalstompywatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 5
    mknelson said:
    Will AI be in a position to testify against this guy?
    Why would they be?

    Wall Street Journal, The Information, sure. But is an AI staffer named as one of the three journalists?
    That's what I was asking. Does AI want to raise it's virtual hand and say they were one of the other unnamed outlets who this dude leaked to?

    And if not, they should be asking themselves why not. What can they do better to be the go-to destination for Apple staffers with an axe to grind.
    watto_cobra
Sign In or Register to comment.