Apple has made several changes to its factory security guidelines to help prevent leaks, according to a new report from The Information. According to the updated guidelines, the company’s manufacturing partners can no longer collect biometric data such as fingerprints or face scans from Apple employees, but the same does not apply to factory workers.
The Information says that it obtained an internal Apple document outlining the changes. One change is that manufacturing partners with which Apple works, such as Foxconn and Pegatron, are no longer allowed to collect biometric data from Apple employees, but they are still free to collect such data from their own employees, even if those employees are making Apple products.
The guidelines also make other changes to help crackdown on product leaks that come from the supply chain. For the first time, Apple is now requiring manufacturers to run criminal background checks on all workers. The company is also mandating that the use of surveillance cameras be increased at these facilities.
Another change includes Apple increasing its focus on “movement of sensitive parts in factories.” As part of this change, if a component takes “an unusually long time to get to its destination,” an internal security alarm must be triggered.
Apple is also said to be making upgrades to its system for tracking parts and components within these factories:
Apple is in the process of upgrading its own computer system, which is installed at some factories, to determine how long parts should remain at one production station before moving to another. The system uses proprietary Apple software on Mac minis to collect and analyze manufacturing data, according to the person familiar with Wistron’s operations in India. This kind of monitoring can help Apple determine whether manufacturers are cutting corners, which Apple sometimes accuses even its biggest partners of doing, according to people familiar with the systems. The system also can prevent the theft of components, those people say.
The new Apple security guidelines for manufacturing partners also include requirements that guards at checkpoints “keep detailed logs of the movement of workers carrying sensitive parts from one area to another,” the report explains. Factory visitors must also now show government IDs, something that wasn’t previously required.
Finally, security cameras must now capture all four sides of transport vehicles, and videos that “show the destruction of prototypes and defective parts” must now be retained for at least 180 days.
The Information notes that these changes are being viewed as setting a double standard among factory workers and partners, who believe that Apple is essentially cracking down on supply chain security in countries were privacy laws are more lax. The employees also say that the changes — particularly to biometric data collection — come as Apple doubles down on its privacy focus, but the same standards aren’t being applied to supply chain workers.
The full report at The Information is well worth a read.