Apple tightens partner security rules, forbids facial recognition of its employees

in General Discussion edited March 2021
New rules for manufacturers working with Apple reportedly include severe limits on biometric scans of Apple staff on premises, yet encourages greater use of security cameras for factory workers.

Facial scanning in use at a factory. (Source: The Information)
Facial scanning in use at a factory. (Source: The Information)

A new report says that Apple has updated its guidelines for factory security that must be followed by its partners in the supply chain. The new conditions include a a ban on facial or fingerprint scanning of Apple staff, though not of the suppliers' own employees.

According to The Information, Apple has also added a new rule requiring manufacturers to carry out background checks on their workers. As well as new guidelines for people, Apple reportedly now requires improved component tracking through the manufacturing process.

The Information is critical of Apple's apparent stance of forbidding facial scans of its own staff, while allowing it to continue with supplier employees. However, Apple presumably has no legal authority over a partner company's staff terms and conditions.

Apple declined to comment on the rules, as did partner companies Luxshare, Pegatron, Jabil, and Wistron. Apple's updated security document, however, reportedly says that its ban is a worldwide privacy policy, but that companies must follow local laws.

Issues over who effectively employees certain staff aside, Apple does have the fact that its size and value to all suppliers. And its ability to switch to different component manufacturers -- does mean that the company has influence.

Consequently, The Information reports that unnamed sources working for Apple's suppliers are seeing the rules as a privacy double standard. Separately, the publication says that Apple instructed its partner Wistron to install extra facial recognition terminals in its factory.

Apple's requirements for greater background checks appears to apply to all suppliers, too. A factory manager in China told The Information that previously such checks were required for its engineers, but not its assembly line workers.

According to that manager and, separately, a former security manager from another Apple supplier, the checks will be expensive. Collectively, the suppliers are estimated to employ between 1.4 and 1.8 million workers annually in China alone.

Apple itself reportedly prefers key card and badge access to secure sections of its own facilities. In comparison, three former Apple employees told The Information, that they were required to submit to facial or fingerprint recognition scans when visiting suppliers in China.

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  • Reply 1 of 9
    rcfarcfa Posts: 1,124member
    A tad hypocritical, ey?
  • Reply 2 of 9
    amar99amar99 Posts: 181member
    Something's wrong with this sentence. "Issues over who effectively employees certain staff aside, Apple does have the fact that its size and value to all suppliers. And its ability to switch to different component manufacturers — does mean that the company has influence."
  • Reply 3 of 9
    We're doubling down... again.
  • Reply 4 of 9
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,453member
    Apple sounds like a massive pain in the ass to work with.  
  • Reply 5 of 9
    TomETomE Posts: 172member
    Smart Idea.  I am sure Apple Knows where to "locate" Staff - Apple Tags, etc.  Not our problem - they have to maintian security of the factories and the suppliers - we do not.  
  • Reply 6 of 9
    Without any control over or knowledge of what happens to the biometric scans of Apple employees, and to what uses they are put, I agree with Apple's stance on this issue.  Who knows what happens to those fingerprint or face scans.

    Basically, they're saying "your employees are your business; ours are not."
  • Reply 7 of 9
    22july201322july2013 Posts: 3,555member
    The whole field of I&A, Identification and Authentication, is rich and complicated, even before we start talking about using these credentials to support access control. On my bucket list is writing a book about I&A. There would be a chapter on passports (both physical and digital), another on passport revocation (and how to share revocation lists), and another on what happens after you die (legacy planning). It is an absolutely fascinating subject - as interesting as quantum physics.
  • Reply 8 of 9
    rcfa said:
    A tad hypocritical, ey?
    So you will be ok If your company’s foreign partner which located in a dictatorship country to require your biometric data, especially fingerprints?

    on the other hand, don’t you think the company you work for already know tons of information about you, especially in China? It is a common practice to included your photo in application in Asia. I will not be surprised if they know your social scores before hiring. 
  • Reply 9 of 9
    Well, I presume Apple does its own background checks on its employees, so it is moot. 

    I agree with most of the above posts - especially @beowulfschmidt, but also @crowley.
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