Apple sues ex-employee for leaking secret projects to journalists for over 5 years: All details

In an interesting turn of events, Apple has filed a lawsuit alleging a leak of classified information about projects including the recently launched Journal app. This development comes just days after the iPhone maker got hit with a lawsuit by the US Department of Justice for allegedly creating a walled garden with its devices and ecosystem. This time, Apple has alleged that Andrew Aude, a former iOS software developer, leaked details about its classified projects. Consequently, Apple seeks damages of over $25000 in addition to a jury trial.

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Apple lawsuit explained

As per the lawsuit filed in the California state court (via MacRumors), Aude not only breached Apple’s confidentiality agreement but also violated labour laws. Aude joined Apple in 2016 and worked on projects that made him “privy to information regarding dozens of Apple’s most sensitive projects”, including battery optimization efforts.

Over a period of five years, the former staffer leaked information about more than 6 projects using his work-issued iPhone. This includes the then-unannounced Journal app as well as Vision Pro, the company’s first mixed-reality headset. A claim in the lawsuit alleges, “Mr. Aude made this disclosure even though Apple’s development efforts were confidential and not known to the public. Over the following months, Mr. Aude disclosed additional Apple confidential information—including information concerning unannounced products, and hardware information.”

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The complaint mentions that Aude specifically leaked information about the finalized set of features of the Journal app to a Wall Street Journal journalist back in 2023 over a phone call. Soon after, Aaron Tilley, a journalist at the same organization filed a story titled, “Apple Plans iPhone Journaling App in Expansion of Health Initiatives.” Aude is also accused of sending “over 1400” messages to Tilley using the encrypted communication app Signal, as well as “over 10000 messages” to another journalist at The Information.

Steps taken by Apple

The Cupertino-based tech giant claims it learned of Aude’s alleged breach of confidentiality agreement in 2023 and was fired later that year over claims of misconduct. In an interview conducted with Aude in 2023, Apple says the employee denied all of the allegations but went to the bathroom thereafter and erased “significant amounts of evidence” from his work-issued iPhone.

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A month later, Aude reportedly admitted to some of the wrongdoings whose proof wasn’t destroyed, but did not cooperate when Apple wanted to settle the matter out of the court, leaving the company no option but to go to court. The company deemed Aude as an “ongoing threat”.

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