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Foxconn: Apple supplier in China roughs up reporter


"A Reuters employee who was investigating Apple's legendary secrecy visited Foxconn's walled city-like facility in Guanlan, China, and was reportedly roughed up by security."

The reporter took a taxi to the facility and left the taxi to take photographs of the front gate and security checkpoint. When a guard shouted, the reporter hopped back in the taxi. The guard then blocked the taxi from leaving.

This is where it gets hairy. The reporter stepped out of the cab and insisted that he was within his rights to take photographs because he was standing on a main road. The guard grabbed his arm as a second guard arrived and both attempted to drag the reporter into the facility. The reporter asked to be released and when the guards refused the reporter jerked free and began walking off. That's when one guard pursued and kicked the reporter in the leg. The other guard threatened to hit him again if he moved. Within a few minutes a Foxconn security car showed up but the reporter refused to get in. That's when the reporter called the police.

The police arrived, the guards apologized, and the reporter left without filing charges. Then the policeman told the reporter, "You're free to do what you want, but this is Foxconn and they have a special status here. Please understand."

In June 2006, Foxconn came under fire for its labor practices at an iPod facility. As a worker reported:

"We have to work too hard and I am always tired. It's like being in the army. They make us stand still for hours. If we move, we are punished by being made to stand still for longer...We have to work overtime if we are told to and can only go back to the dormitories when our boss gives us permission...If they ask for overtime we must do it. After working 15 hours until 11:30pm, we feel so tired."
In response to the media outrage, Apple audited the facility a month later. But that wasn't the end of the Foxconn woes. In July of 2009, 25-year-old Sun Danyong, a Foxconn employee, reportedly committed suicide following the disappearance of an iPhone prototype. After losing the prototype, Danyong supposedly had his apartment illegally searched, and he was allegedly treated roughly by Foxconn security personnel.

A contract from Apple for a part in or assembly of one of its iPhones, iPods, or Macs can mean tens of millions of dollars for a company. In 2008, TechCrunch reported that Foxconn was producing as much as 800,000 iPhones per week. It's unfortunately not surprising that the fear of losing an Apple contract over leaked information can lead to some abusive security measures. While its quite evident that Apple would never suggest illegal ways of maintaining that security, it seems like Foxconn will do what it deems necessary to ensure it doesn't incur the wrath of one of its largest clients – especially when Foxconn is investing $1 billion in a new factory in China that could be used to produce the next generation of Apple products.

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