Apple reportedly bans facial scans of employees, but not factory workers

Apple's new security guidelines reportedly increase surveillance camera use and require background checks on factory workers.

Rae Hodge
Rae Hodge Former senior editor
Rae Hodge was a senior editor at CNET. She led CNET's coverage of privacy and cybersecurity tools from July 2019 to January 2023. As a data-driven investigative journalist on the software and services team, she reviewed VPNs, password managers, antivirus software, anti-surveillance methods and ethics in tech. Prior to joining CNET in 2019, Rae spent nearly a decade covering politics and protests for the AP, NPR, the BBC and other local and international outlets.
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Apple recently banned its manufacturing partners from collecting facial recognition scans and the fingerprint data of Apple employees who visit manufacturing facilities, according to a Wednesday report by The Information. Citing an internal Apple document it reviewed, the outlet also reports that the new privacy rule does not apply to the more than 1 million factory workers who make Apple's products. 

The internal document is reportedly part of Apple's new security protocols aimed at reducing intellectual property theft, and also includes a mandated increase in surveillance camera use at manufacturing facilities, along with upgrades to component tracking systems that monitor Apple hardware during production. The document requires manufacturers to conduct criminal background checks on factory workers as well. 

"We do not ask our suppliers to collect biometric data on their employees. Apple complies with all relevant laws, including GDPR wherever we do business. If a supplier wishes to collect biometrics on their employees as part of their security protocols it must be in compliance with the law," Apple said in an email to CNET. 

Meanwhile, other companies, like Amazon , are ramping up their use of facial recognition technology on workers. According to multiple reports, Amazon's delivery drivers are required to consent to biometric monitoring in order to keep their jobs. The monitoring comes from cameras installed in delivery vehicles, which will take workers photos and track their driving for unsafe behaviors.