Apple pays millions to woman whose explicit photos were leaked online

Apple Repair Program Update Hero
Apple Repair Program Update Hero (Image credit: Apple)

What you need to know

  • Apple has paid a multimillion-dollar settlement to a student whose photos were leaked online by repair technicians.
  • A 21-year-old sent her iPhone to Apple for repair in 2016.
  • Two employees at a Pegatron repair factory leaked explicit images online to Facebook causing her 'severe emotional distress.

Apple has paid out millions of dollars to a woman after explicit photos and a video was posted online by two employees at a Pegatron repair factory carrying out repairs on her iPhone.

As noted by The Telegraph:

Apple paid millions of dollars to a student after iPhone repair technicians posted explicit photos and videos from her phone to Facebook, legal documents have revealed. The tech giant agreed to a settlement with the 21-year-old after two employees at a repair facility uploaded the images from a phone she had sent to Apple to be fixed, resulting in "severe emotional distress".

According to the report the 21-year-old, a student in Oregon at the time, sent her iPhone to Apple for repair in 2016. It was then sent on to a California repair center run by Apple supplier Pegatron. Two Pegatron employees at the facility uploaded explicit photos and a video to Facebook from the woman's phone, in an incident described as "one of the most significant privacy violations to be revealed at an iPhone repair facility."

The report claims that the full size of the settlement has not been disclosed but was described as a "multimillion-dollar" sum. Lawyers for the victim had reportedly demanded $5 million in negotiations, threatening to sue for invasion of privacy and emotional distress. Instead, Apple chose to settle the case, including a confidentiality clause precluding discussion of the incident or the size of the sum paid.

As the report notes, the revelation about the story was actually made as a result of a legal dispute between Pegatron and its insurers. The former had reimbursed Apple for the settlement (as the company ultimately responsible), but its insurers had then refused to cover the cost. Apple was not named in this lawsuit, but a reference was made to the case in a separate lawsuit against the company, Apple has since confirmed the incident. A spokesman for Apple said "We take the privacy and security of our customers' data extremely seriously and have a number of protocols in place to ensure data is protected throughout the repair process. When we learned of this egregious violation of our policies at one of our vendors in 2016, we took immediate action and have since continued to strengthen our vendor protocols."

Apple is one of a number of companies that have previously lobbied against Right to Repair legislation over concerns that unvetted third parties could access information on consumer's electronics and could have serious adverse security, privacy, and safety risks.

In March Apple announced a global expansion of its Independent Repair Provider program globally. Apple has previously noted that the cost of providing repair services has exceeded the revenue generated by repairs for each year since 2009.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design. Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9