Does Apple Have a High School Management Precept: We Are Entitled Because We Are Smarter Than You

April 19, 2022

The story “Ex-Apple Employee Takes Face ID Privacy Complaint to Europe” contains information about an Apple employee’s complaint to the “privacy watchdogs outside the US.” I have no insight into the accuracy or pervasiveness of Apple’s alleged abuses of privacy. The write up states:

Gjøvik [the former Apple employee blowing the privacy horn] urges the regulators to “investigate the matters I raised and open a larger investigation into these topics within Apple’s corporate offices globally”, further alleging: “Apple claims that human rights do not differ based on geographic location, yet Apple also admits that French and German governments would never allow it to do what it is doing in Cupertino, California and elsewhere.”

What I find interesting is that employees who go to work for a company with trade secrets is uncomfortable with practices designed to maintain secrecy. When I went to work for a nuclear engineering company, I understood what the products of the firm could do. Did I protest the risks some of those products might pose? Nope. I took the money and talked about computers and youth soccer.

Employees who sign secrecy agreements (the Snowden approach) and then ignore them baffle me. I think I understand discomfort with some procedures within a commercial enterprise. A new employee often does not know how to listen or read between the lines of the official documents. My view is that an employee who finds an organization a bad fit should quit. The litigation benefits attorneys. I am not confident that the rulings will significantly alter how some companies operate. The ethos of an organization can persist even as the staff turns over and the managerial wizards go through the revolving doors.

As the complaint winds along, the legal eagles will benefit. Disenchanted employees? Perhaps not too much. The article makes clear that when high school science club management precepts are operational, some of the managers’ actions manifest hubris and a sense of entitlement. These are admirable qualities for a clever 16 year old. For a company which is altering the social fabric of societies, those high school concepts draw attention to what may be a serious flaw. Should companies operate without meaningful consequences for their systems and methods? Sure. Why not?

Stephen E Arnold, April 19, 2022


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