Men in black suits are hastily tearing through an apartment, their hearts beating as fast as hummingbirds’, worrying that they might be the next victim if they don’t succeed. 14 stories below, at the base of the building lies a man, dead because he lost a phone.
A shipment of prototype iPhones was set to be sent to Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California from their manufacturer, Foxconn in China, but panic erupted all throughout the company when someone realized that the case was short 1 phone. Fast forward only days later and the man in charge of the shipment was found dead at the base of his apartment after being searched, interrogated, and allegedly tortured.
Apple has always been known for the uber high-tech, CIA-esque security measures it takes in order to ensure the secrecy of their new products, especially the iPhone. Their office employees are monitored as if they are dealing with the answer to the universe. Monitored 24/7, these employees have to pass through ridiculously high security checkpoints on a daily basis in order to even get into their buildings. When handling products of high security nature, black cloaked figures with white masks come out and whisk the prototypes from place to place, alerting security guards exactly where these products are going and for what purpose. Misplacing one of these beloved prototypes (that you would think holds the answer to the universe in them) is frankly, impossible. Foxconn, the company that manufactures iPhones and iPods, was also held to the same secrecy standards. It however was missing a crucial ingredient–all of the cutting edge technology to enforce it.
Foxconn had no other methods of knowing what exactly happened to the missing prototype so they resorted to old fashioned ways of getting the truth. The employee in charge of the shipment, Sun Danyong, reportedly told his friends that the company searched his home, held him in confinement, and finally tortured him.
The death of the Danyong was declared an “apparent suicide” and was prompted by the “unbearable” interrogation and mistreatment conducted by Foxconn. Foxconn has a lot at stake when it comes to Apple–their work is valued but can easily be replaced. In the few seconds it took for Danyong to fall 14 stories, Foxconn could have lost billions of dollars depending on how Apple decides to respond to the allegations.
Danyong’s last text message was claimed to have been discovered by Chinese newspapers who are trying to piece together his death. They have release a photo of the his supposed last messages which clearly indicate that something torturous has been happening to him. They also think that they have discovered his last online messages to his friends that say that he did not steal the prototype and that he believes it was swiped. The messages also indicate that he was tortured by security from Foxconn.
Apple, however is not blameless. Apple’s little tolerance for breaches in security created an atmosphere so pressurized that it propelled security guards to physically torture their employee for information.
If Danyong indeed committed suicide, it is clear that it was a direct result of his treatment in the workplace and the psychological pressure he was under. Had Apple found out about the lost prototype and decided to cease business with Foxconn, he would have been responsible for the loss of thousands of jobs, billions of dollars, and possibly even the demise of the company that relies heavily on their relationship with Apple. Furthermore, the company you are currently working for has labor laws that are as enforced as jaywalking is in NYC, and even most daunting is the fact that you are at the hands of one of the most power, innovative, and secretive technology companies in the world.
Apple has responded with a statement, “We are saddened by the tragic loss of this young employee, and we are awaiting results of the investigations into his death. We require our suppliers to treat all workers with dignity and respect,” but has yet to make any definitive decisions regarding their connection with Foxconn.
Had Foxconn had the kind of security surveillance systems that Apple benefits from at their headquarters, perhaps they would have been able to see exactly what happened to the prototype, perhaps it would not have been lost at all.