Apple has long been known for its secrecy when it comes to unreleased products. Despite its efforts, leaks still get out regularly, particularly from its supply chain. Apple is reportedly looking to change that by updating the security guidelines for its manufacturing partners. Ironically, the news comes from an internal document leaked to The Information.
Under the updated guidelines, manufacturing facilities must conduct criminal background checks on assembly line workers that have access to unreleased Apple products. Previously background checks only applied to certain employees. Those with criminal histories are not allowed into any area of the facility where unreleased devices are being developed or assembled.
Apple is also upgrading its computer systems to track how long components remain at workstations. If the part is in one place for too long, the computer will issue security alerts. Additionally, guards posted at various checkpoints will be required to keep detailed records regarding the locations and movements of any employees moving “sensitive” components from one area to another.
The new rules extend outside of the factory floor as well. For example, any visitors to the facility must present a government-issued ID for vetting. External surveillance camera coverage must now be capable of capturing all four sides of transport vehicles. Management must also keep any video showing the destruction of prototypes or faulty components for at least 180 days.
One of the stranger and perhaps more controversial rules is that plants can no longer collect biometric information from any Apple employees visiting the facility. However, the company still requires fingerprints and facial scans of plant personnel. Not only does this create a double standard in the work environment, but it also doesn’t make that much sense from a security standpoint.
If anything, factory workers who are in the facility daily and are recognized by management and coworkers are much less threat than some random Apple employee coming in for the first time. ID badges can be faked, and biometric screening is a good last line of defense against physical penetration.
As with all leaks, treat this one as a rumor. Apple has not confirmed the policy changes and considering the nature, it likely never will, even if true.