Apple is known for its secretive nature and dislike of pre-launch revelations about its products. But the degree to which it enforces that veil of secrecy has become a little clearer.
Lawyers acting for the tech giant have sent out threatening letters to a number of well-known leakers, MacRumors reports.
The letters warn that legal action will be taken if the recipient does not stop publishing information about upcoming Apple products. This information can benefit the company's competitors, the letters explain, and "mislead customers, because what is disclosed may not be accurate".
One of the letters was sent to Kang, one of the most reliable tech leakers on the circuit. Kang has an accuracy of 97.1%, according to AppleTrack, which would suggest that customers are very rarely misled by his posts.
Kang complains, furthermore (on his Weibo account), that he has never published "undisclosed product pictures" and wonders if Apple is now against "riddles and dreams".
"Dreaming will violate their confidentiality mechanism," he writes.
On the one hand, this is a logical step for Apple, given how fond the company is of springing surprises without leakers having given away the secrets beforehand. But rumours demonstrably increase interest in Apple's upcoming launches, and the letters feel rather heavy-handed.
We recently discussed the methods used by the company to prevent leaks ahead of WWDC. Rather than legal threats, Apple simply adjusted its OS beta programme so that each developer was given access only to the features relevant to them. This ruffled fewer feathers and, we would imagine, cost rather less money than employing a legal firm to crack its knuckles.
But it isn't always possible to keep a secret, and it's far more difficult to limit access to hardware, which needs to make its way through a labyrinthine supply chain (and be taken home by Apple employees working remotely during the pandemic).
It will be interesting to see what effect the letters have on the fertile Apple leaker community, and whether the company follows through on its threats against those who do not choose to stop their work.
Update: A month after this news broke Vice obtained a copy of a cease and desist letter that was sent to a Chinese citizen on 18 June 2021. The recipient had advertised stolen iPhone prototypes on social media.
In the letter Apple outlines its concern that the prototypes could be used by third-party accessory manufacturers as a basis to "develop and sell mobile phone cases and other accessories that are not actually compatible with the unreleased products." Read more: Apple's desire to stop leaks is to protect its partners.
For our thoughts on the leakers most worth a follow, read Who is the best Apple leaker?
This article originally appeared on Macworld Sweden. Translation and additional reporting by David Price.