Apple paid a multi-million dollar settlement to an Oregon woman after iPhone repair technicians uploaded explicit images and videos to the internet from a phone it sent in for repair.
Legal documents, first reported by The Telegraph, revealed that the anonymous woman sent her iPhone for repair on January 14, 2016 to an Apple-approved repair contractor called Pegatron Technology Service in California. Technicians then uploaded “extremely personal and private material” to the woman’s Facebook account and other websites, according to the documents.
The videos were uploaded to make it look like the woman herself had shared them on purpose, the documents said, causing the woman “severe emotional distress.” The woman was made aware of the incident when friends viewed the videos and images on Facebook.
The woman sued Apple and ultimately settled with the company for millions of dollars. But Apple was never directly cited in the lawsuit in an attempt to keep the matter confidential.
The incident only became public when lawyers for a more recent and unrelated case involving Apple and Pegatron referred to the previous case in their legal documents, saying the named client was “clearly Apple.”
Apple confirmed the incident in a statement to the Guardian on Monday. The woman’s lawyers did not respond to a request for comment.
“We take the privacy and security of our customers’ data very seriously and have a number of protocols in place to ensure data protection throughout the repair process,” said an Apple spokesperson. .
“When we learned of this blatant violation of our policies at one of our suppliers in 2016, we took immediate action and have since continued to strengthen our supplier protocols,” the spokesperson added.
This is not the first incident in which a technician has been accused of stealing and posting images of a customer. In 2013, a 27-year-old Best Buy customer sued the retailer after photos of a computer she had brought in for repair were shared online.
But, as the Telegraph notes, the case undermines Apple’s frequent argument to only allow authorized retailers to repair devices, an issue that has gained more attention amid competition-related lawsuits. Apple has repeatedly emphasized the safety of its own repair services over others and opposed laws that would allow consumers to perform their own repairs, promoting its own authorized repair program.