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Apple has fired staff from one of its Australian stores following allegations they were sharing photos of female customers and colleagues. It's also claimed the employees were stealing images from iPhones that were being repaired.
The original report in Brisbane's Courier-Mail claimed the staff secretly took photos of female co-workers and shoppers without their knowledge. These were added to a sharing ring, which reportedly contained over 100 intimate images, including close-ups of women's chests and behinds. The pictures were then rated out of 10 by the four employees involved.
The publication also states that female iPhone owners who brought their devices in for repair had photos copied from the handsets. It was only when a staff member noticed a store technician looking through a customer's phone in the repair room that things came to light. The Carindale store brought in an HR executive from overseas to look into the matter.
Apple said that based on its investigation thus far, it has found no evidence that customer data or photos were inappropriately transferred or anyone had been photographed without consent. However, the company did say that several employees have been terminated as a result of its findings - so it must have discovered some wrongdoings.
"Apple believes in treating everyone equally and with respect, and we do not tolerate behavior that goes against our values," the company said in a statement.
The chance that a firm could steal or accidentally erase photos from a phone is a concern for many people. Not everyone knows to make backups of their images before sending a handset in for repair. Just last year, Apple had to pay a UK man $1810 in compensation and $1166 in court costs after one of its stores wiped photos of his honeymoon and 15 years worth of contacts when his iPhone was sent in for repair.
This is the second time an Australian Apple store has created unwelcome headlines for the company. In November 2015, several black teenage students were told to leave an Apple store in Melbourne because staff thought they "might steal something."