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Apple as the Gestapo?

A delectable confection for the holiday season.

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It might be difficult to force Steve Jobs into the role of a Heinrich Himmler but that doesn't mean some people won't try. Jesus Diaz at Gizmodo thinks the suit fits.


The article is overly laden with political syrup, comparing Apple directly with Himmler's Geheime Staatspolizei (misspellt of course) and dragging in those 'thousands of millions' (yes that's billions) oppressed in every country except the United States of course.

And it's based on the confidential testimony of a single former Apple employee known only as 'Tom'.

To start with, the myth that Apple were ever in a position to 'free' anyone is just that and nothing more - a myth. The infamous 1984 ad was concocted by an agency with the speech written by a professional whose twist on the import was his own and no one else's. It's all hype and that's all it's ever been. The 'think different', not only a grammatical error, was the same. It's definitely about everybody thinking the same instead.

The story is of course completely uncorroborated. As it must be. As the likelihood of insiders coming forward is slim and the possibility they'd willingly reveal their identities even slimmer.

But it's a plausible tale. Even a believable one. The actions seem both logical and justifiable: employees sign NDAs as they do in all companies. And trade secrets are important. Everyone knows that.

No, it's more the spectre of what's going on. The empathy for those working at the company, feeling paranoid all the time, fearful of being interrogated, knowing one is guilty until proved innocent. No, they don't use physical torture - but they use psychological torture which can often be far worse.

The spectre is of a micromanaging Steve Jobs dressed in full SS regalia and surrounded by like minded subordinates who in turn are micromanagers themselves. The caricature is of Apple employees greeting one another in a manner comparable to the infamous Nazi one - something to reaffirm one's unswerving fealty to the company and one's intolerance for anyone who dares 'think different'.

'appletoad' has a story of his own to tell.

You hit the nail right on the head. I've had my phone seized, my emails read, and even my social networking accounts monitored. You wouldn't believe how well integrated their 'moles' are. They are nearly undetectable until its almost too late. But the way to spot them is they gain favour with superiors while seeming to not do quite as much work, and eventually they will stick to the rulebook in a way that makes them seem like either a complete loser or a spy.

You wouldn't believe the fiasco that went on at Apple when iPhone 3.0 was in beta and people were using it. Superiors and their moles were all interested and 'normal' about checking out people's phones running the beta, but 4 days later you would get the call into the office with written documentation and witnesses saying you had beta software. Of course having paid to be in the legit developer program, I was not in the wrong, but I still had quite a tense interrogation and had many threats thrown at me, both legal and about my job security. Then they were sure to remind me that as part of my employment contract, anything I develop is the intellectual property of Apple, so I shouldn't bother with the SDK. Oh yeah, I forgot to tell you, if you create anything while you work at Apple, they own it, and if you claim otherwise you will be fired and they will sue.

Some of this is par for the course for any software company. Software companies worldwide have agreements with their programmers about who owns what's written during employment, about working for the competition within a certain time period after an employment contract is ended, and so forth.

None of that is extraordinary in any way. So it's not right for the inexperienced to heap more crap on the shit pile. As if it would be legitimate to complain that Apple exercise undue control by making sure they're the ones who pay out the salaries.

Spies are everywhere in every business. Employees don't normally detect them. But they're there. Of course they are.

But there's something about the fanaticism of Apple that's distasteful, a turn-off. There's something about how Apple take a common sense idea and then run too far - much too far - with it. There's something in there about how ordinary people would draw the line and reaffirm their humanity where Apple do not.

A delectable confection for the holiday season.

See Also
Gizmodo: Apple Gestapo: How Apple Hunts Down Leaks

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