Apple's secret society

Summary:It's well known that Apple is one of the most secretive companies in silicon valley, if not the world but at what point does that secrecy adversly affect products, or worse, become illegal?Like most technology companies Apple requires all employees (and contractors) to sign strict non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements that are part of a larger employment contract.

[Steve Jobs]It's well known that Apple is one of the most secretive companies in silicon valley, if not the world but at what point does that secrecy adversly affect products, or worse, become illegal?

Like most technology companies Apple requires all employees (and contractors) to sign strict non-disclosure and confidentiality agreements that are part of a larger employment contract.

Apple specifically forbids employees from talking about unannounced products. Violation is grounds for dismissal and Apple has been known to take legal action personally against the offending employee. Apple closely monitors all communication on its corporate network and routinely plants false information with employees in an effort to track leaks.

Talking to the press is also off limits. Employees are instructed to direct all questions from the media to their public relations department. Apple PR is a notoriously tight group that communicates to a tiny clique of only the safest, largest, mainstream media. If you're not Mossberg, Baig, or Pogue -- don't call us, we'll call you.

Apple has even gone so far as to train its legal attack dogs on the media. I'm intimately aware of Apple's paranoid level of security as my Web site -- O'Grady's PowerPage -- was one of the targets of an Apple legal probe in December 2004 (Apple v. Does). We prevailed in May 2006 when a California state appeals court ruled that the online journalists have the same right to protect the confidentiality of sources as traditional mainstream reporters do.

For obvious reasons no one will go on the record about it, but Apple strictly forbids any sort of personal blogging, tweeting or otherwise discussing anything that an employee or contractor is working on. All Apple product information has to be fully sanitized, blessed and released by www.apple.com/pr.

A New York Times piece Apple’s Obsession With Secrecy Grows Stronger turns the topic to the health of Apple's iconic CEO, Steve Jobs.

On that key issue, the experts are divided. Some believe Apple did not need to disclose Mr. Jobs’s liver transplant because Mr. Jobs was on a leave of absence and had passed responsibility for the day-to-day operations of the company to the chief operating officer, Timothy Cook.

Other governance experts argue that the liver transplant now makes one of Apple’s assertions from January — that Mr. Jobs was suffering only from a hormonal imbalance — seem like a deliberate mistruth, unless Mr. Jobs’s health condition suddenly deteriorated. Of course, no one knows enough to say definitively.

While I generally avoid reporting on issues involving Steve's health out of respect for his privacy, what obligation does Jobs have to share the details of his health with Apple's Board of Directors and shareholders?

Topics: Apple

About

Jason D. O'Grady developed an affinity for Apple computers after using the original Lisa, and this affinity turned into a bona-fide obsession when he got the original 128 KB Macintosh in 1984. He started writing one of the first Web sites about Apple (O'Grady's PowerPage) in 1995 and is considered to be one of the fathers of blogging.... Full Bio

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