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Apple Store Employees Fired Over Alleged ‘Photo-Sharing Ring’

October 13, 2016, 6:02 PM UTC
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NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 17: The Apple logo is displayed at the Apple Store June 17, 2015 on Fifth Avenue in New York City. The company began selling the watch in stores Wednesday with their reserve and pick up service. Previously the product could only be ordered online. (Photo by Eric Thayer/Getty Images)
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Apple has fired several store employees in Australia for operating a “photo-sharing ring,” according to a report.

Apple (AAPL) fired “several” employees in Brisbane recently for violating its conduct policies after they allegedly took photographs of women, shared them with each other, and ranked the women on a scale of 1-10, The Guardian is reporting. Apple said, however, that there is no evidence that customers were photographed despite an earlier Courier-Mail report saying both female customers and employees were targeted.

The Courier-Mail says an Apple employee at the Carindale store in Brisbane had noticed a technician combing through a customer’s phone to look for photos to share with other employees. The person subsequently filed a report with managers. It’s also believed that the Apple Store employees snapped pictures of women.

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Regardless, Apple’s troubles might extend beyond one store, according to the reports. One employee told the Courier-Mail that similar photo-sharing took place at other Apple retail stores in Australia. Apple hasn’t said whether it fired employees at other stores for similar activities.

The revelation sheds some light on just how easy it can be for Apple employees to take photos from customers. In a world where smartphones equipped with cameras are ubiquitous, snapping a photo of someone else and sharing it with friends takes just seconds. And although Apple’s retail stores have been lauded for good customer service and technical help, the employees’ activities illustrate the risks—and potential privacy concerns—of handing over a cell phone to someone else.

In response, Apple has flown a human resources executive to Brisbane to handle the problem.

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Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.