Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Report: Missing iPhone Prototype Pressured Chinese Worker to Commit Suicide

Report: Missing iPhone Prototype Pressured Chinese Worker to Commit Suicide:

Updated 11:50 a.m. PDT: Apple has confirmed the Foxconn employee’s death.

We’ve heard plenty of stories about Apple employees getting fired for leaking secrets, but imagine how much pressure is on the company’s partners to keep products hush hush. A Chinese publication reports that a 25-year-old employee of Foxconn, who manufactures Apple’s iPhones in Taiwan, committed suicide after losing a prototype of the fourth-generation iPhone.

Foxconn worker Sun Danyong was handling a shipment of 16 iPhone prototypes, and one of them went missing, according to ND Daily [Google translation]. Then, Foxconn unleashed its central security division to investigate Sun. Unable to take the “unbearable interrogation techniques,” Sun jumped from a 12-story building on July 16, according to the report.

Foxconn has issued a statement [Google translation] apologizing for the incident. The letter admits that the chief of Foxconn’s central security division, surnamed Gu, may have used “inappropriate interrogation methods,” including possible beatings, searching Sun’s house and holding Sun in solitary confinement. Gu is on suspension and under internal investigation, according to Foxconn.

In a statement provided to CNET, Apple confirmed Sun’s death.

“We are saddened by the tragic loss of this young employee, and we are awaiting results of the investigations into his death,” an Apple spokeswoman said. “We require our suppliers to treat all workers with dignity and respect.”

Apple is infamous for operating with a level of secrecy comparable to the Central Intelligence Agency. However, as Apple’s product line expands and accrues more partners, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for the corporation to guard its secrets. In the case of Foxconn, it’s clear why the company would exert so much pressure on its employees to protect Apple’s secrets: The manufacturer would not wish to lose this valuable partnership.

Foxconn employee committed suicide over iPhone leak interrogations? [Shanghaiist]

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Photo: MacRonin47/Flickr

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