Apple staff fired over sharing of customers' intimate photos

BRISBANE • A number of employees at an Apple store in Brisbane, Australia, have been fired after they allegedly shared photos of female customers and colleagues, Australian media reported.

Brisbane's Courier-Mail said dozens of photos were taken without the knowledge or consent of the women, and that other images were stolen from customers' phones. It added that the employees had ranked the women's bodies out of 10.

According to the paper, the photos included more than 100 close-up and intimate images.

Apple in a statement confirmed that an investigation was under way and said "several" jobs had been terminated. However, it also said that the inquiry had thus far not shown that any photos had been stolen. The inquiry also indicated that no one had been photographed without consent.

"Apple believes in treating everyone equally and with respect, and we do not ­tolerate behaviour that goes against our values," the statement read. "Based on our investigation thus far, we have seen no evidence that customer data or photos were inappropriately transferred or that anyone was photographed by these former employees."

The Courier-Mail said the possible privacy breach came to be known after a fellow employee noticed a store technician browsing through a customer's phone in the repair room. It said a staff member had also voiced concern that the "disgusting" practice was happening at other Apple stores in Australia.

Australian Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim is looking into the alleged privacy breach, according to the BBC.

"We are aware of the reports and will be making inquiries with Apple to seek further information," he said. "This is an important reminder that all organisations that collect and manage personal information need to embed a culture of privacy and ensure employees understand their responsibilities."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 15, 2016, with the headline 'Apple staff fired over sharing of customers' intimate photos'. Print Edition | Subscribe