Apple paid woman millions after iPhone technicans posted explicit photos online

The techs were employed by a contractor, but it's still a huge privacy lapse.

Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Apple has made privacy a selling point for years, but that respect apparently didn't extend to some contracted technicians. The Telegraph has learned that Apple paid a "multimillion-dollar" settlement to a woman studying at the University of Oregon after two iPhone repair techs at a Pegatron facility in Sacramento, California posted her explicit photos and a video online in 2016. She sent the iPhone in for a fix, but found that the perpetrators shared the media through her Facebook account as if she'd posted them herself.

The woman's attorneys had threatened to sue for the a privacy invasion and emotional trauma. While the incident happened on Pegatron's watch, Apple paid the settlement and received compensation from Pegatron. The breach only came to light during a fight between Pegatron and insurers that refused to cover the payment.

Apple reportedly conducted an "exhaustive" investigation that led to both the settlement and firing the two technicians. At the same time, it demanded confidentiality over concerns that publicity could lead to "substantial business harm." , with Apple described only as a "customer." Apple was identified only during an unrelated lawsuit.

An Apple spokesperson confirmed the violation to the Telegraph and said the company took privacy "extremely seriously," and that it had safeguards to protect data during repairs. The tech giant has "continued to strengthen" its contractor rules since 2016, the representative said without elaborating.

It's not clear how much Apple could have done to prevent the photo leak when it involved technicians outside the company's direct control. This isn't the kind of revelation Apple wants given its privacy focus, however, and it suggests that the company's protocols needed tightening at the time. Customers trust repair facilities to respect their privacy, and that trust was clearly broken.

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