Apple Sues Former Employee for Leaking to Reporters From The Wall Street Journal and The Information

Joe Rossignol, reporting for MacRumors:

Apple this month sued its former employee Andrew Aude in California state court, alleging that he breached the company’s confidentiality agreement and violated labor laws by leaking sensitive information to the media and employees at other tech companies. Apple has demanded a jury trial, and it is seeking damages in excess of $25,000. [...]

In April 2023, for example, Apple alleges that Aude leaked a list of finalized features for the iPhone’s Journal app to a journalist at The Wall Street Journal on a phone call. That same month, The Wall Street Journal’s Aaron Tilley published a report titled “Apple Plans iPhone Journaling App in Expansion of Health Initiatives.”

Using the encrypted messaging app Signal, Aude is said to have sent “over 1,400” messages to the same journalist, who Aude referred to as “Homeboy.” He is also accused of sending “over 10,000 text messages” to another journalist at the website The Information, and he allegedly traveled “across the continent” to meet with her.

10,000 text messages seems like ... a lot? Makes me wonder if there was a personal aspect to that relationship, beyond leaking. MacRumors has posted a copy of Apple’s lawsuit, which includes this gem:

Apple learned of Mr. Aude’s misconduct in the fall of 2023. When Apple met with him to discuss his improper disclosures, Mr. Aude promptly confirmed his guilt through his actions, if not his words. At the start of his November 7, 2023 interview, Mr. Aude repeatedly denied that he had leaked any information to anyone. He also claimed that he did not have his Apple-issued work iPhone with him. Feigning the need to visit the bathroom mid-interview, Mr. Aude then extracted his iPhone from his pocket during the break and permanently deleted significant amounts of evidence from his device. This included the Signal app, which memorialized his history of leaking information to “Homeboy” (and likely others) via encrypted communications.

Part of the evidence Aude left behind were screenshots he kept of otherwise secure messages:

In connection with one leak, Mr. Aude admitted that he violated his obligations to Apple so he could “kill” products and features with which he took issue. As his frequent Google searches, article shares, and screenshots saved to his Apple-issued work iPhone reveal, vanity and personal enjoyment of the media’s attention also played a significant role in his malfeasance. In Mr. Aude’s screenshot below memorializing his exchange with the WSJ journalist, Mr. Aude exclaimed that he could not “wait for chaos to break out” in reaction to a forthcoming article reflecting his leaked information.

Worth noting that Aaron “Homeboy” Tilley was a reporter for The Information until September 2019, when he left to join the WSJ. Anyway, I’m sure the WSJ will help Aude out with his legal bills.

Thursday, 28 March 2024