Privacy Talk with Ashley Gjøvik, JD, Apple Whistleblower and A.M. Gjovik Consulting, LLC: What Apple privacy concerns did you expose last year?

Kohei Kurihara
Privacy Talk
Published in
6 min readDec 8, 2022

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“This interview recorded on 8th November 2022 is talking about employment privacy and human rights.”

Kohei is having great time discussing employment privacy and human rights.

This interview outline:

  • Introduction
  • What did you do at Apple?
  • What Apple privacy concerns did you expose last year?
  • How did Apple react?

Kohei: Hello, everyone. Thank you for coming to the privacy talk. I’m quite so honored to invite Ashley in this interview, so she’s very proactive to work on human rights and I respect her work. I’m very glad to have an interview with her at this moment. Thank you Ashley for coming into this moment.

Ashley: Happy to be here. Thank you.

  • Introduction

Kohei: Thank you. First of all, I would like to introduce her profile. Ashley is a Human Rights lawyer and published author on international law, public health, privacy, and human rights.

She’s conducted research, written papers, and delivered presentations for human rights NGOs and advocacy groups. She’s won awards for academic excellence in statutory analysis, public health, and property rights. She’s led formal corporate efforts in technology social responsibility, AI ethics, and employee civic engagement.

Ashley has a Juris Doctor degree and a certificate in Public International Law, with honors. Ashley worked at Apple for nearly seven years, and Nike before that. She’s been directly accountable for the success of high-risk, multi-million dollar projects for over a decade. She’s managed global projects, programs, policies, and messaging.

So again, thank you for having this moment.

Ashley: I’m very happy to be here.

Kohei: Thank you. So I’d like to move to the agenda today. So you have been working at Apple or other very excellent careers so far. So could you tell us about your history and your work at Apple?

  • What did you do at Apple?

Ashley: I joined Apple in February of 2015. I had been at Nike for a few years prior. I was running software releases there and I came over to Apple to run iOS software releases at Apple.

So everything it took from you know planning a brand new release to it actually going to a customer’s phone, and then I moved on to a program called Early Field Failure Analysis.

I was responsible, when we ship a new iPhone or Mac, for any major software issues that caused bad press or customer concerns, from figuring out what went wrong, to making sure we got a fix and we had proper communication. And then the last few years I worked in a group called Product Integrity.

I was Chief of Staff for a couple executives there and I ran big projects and programs. Then I also spent a summer in Apple legal software products where they asked me to lead a project to create the foundation for Apple’s AI ethics policy and technology social responsibility policy, which was really interesting.

Then I was also tapped to lead a company wide civic engagement project for employees around voting and getting engaged with our democracy. Any type of company-wide policy at Apple is something that is really complicated but it was a pleasant challenge to build out foundational work that I hear is still in use today.

Kohei: Thank you. I have learned about some of your experiences so far and then an Apple experience, you’ve been very excellent careers. But there is a little bit there’s some concerns with your past things. So could you tell us any concerns related to your experience in Apple last year?

  • What Apple privacy concerns did you expose last year?

Ashley: So due to a series of very unfortunate circumstances, I ended up feeling it was necessary to escalate some of my concerns about work conditions at Apple to the public through the press and social media and also filing complaints to the government.

It was all triggered by concerns about unsafe work conditions and Apple’s response to my concerns. But through the process, I also ended up disclosing a number of other concerns, including Apple’s troubling surveillance of their employees and really gross invasions of our privacy, harvesting of our biometrics and general intimidation tactics to try to silence us and keep us quiet about everything that we’re doing.

I tried to work with Apple for months, but they really weren’t willing to engage in a constructive way, so I resorted to becoming a whistleblower. Here I am today.

Kohei: That’s very important to insist on yourself. So maybe you’re struggling to talk with Apple in this case. So could you tell us about any reactions from the company of the behavior actions?

  • How did Apple react?

Ashley: Yeah, Apple was not very receptive to any type of feedback about these types of policies with their employees. And Apple is also known to be one of the most secretive companies in the entire world about their internal business practices, almost comically so sometimes if you read the articles about it.

They were not pleased about me speaking out even internally, let alone when I went public. So when Apple fired me, shortly after I went public, I had a number of open complaints against them with the state and federal governments. I was in the press nearly every day talking about my concerns, and they did not seem very happy about any of that.

At the time they fired me they didn’t offer any specific reasons why I was fired. It was very general and vague. And they didn’t warn me before they fired me either.

A week after I was fired, I got an email from one of their law firms hinting to the reason but they wouldn’t say the official reasoning until March of this year. Come to find out Apple claims they fired me specifically for exposing secret anatomical experiments on their employees, harvesting employee biometrics, and installing internal apps on our phones that took secret videos of us all the time including in our bedrooms and bathrooms.

To me, coming from a company that markets having a really strong stance on privacy rights,t was a truly bizarre justification for terminating a long-term, very successful employee.

I don’t deny I exposed the things they pointed to but I disagree that they would be justification for a termination especially for an employee that’s already had open cases with the government against that company.

Because their justification for firing me is that, then that means we also get to debate the specific issues they raised in agencies and in court, which I’m actually kind of weirdly looking forward to, probably because I feel so strongly about privacy rights. I want to make an example of them for taking such a disrespectful position to their employees.

Kohei: I understand. Yeah, that’s very serious, two faced against big actions. So in this moments, you became a lawyer now, then Oh, could you tell me why you decided to become a lawyer and what is a working as a lawyer at this moment?

Ashley: I started law school in 2018. I had been working in professional functions for 20 years and with these big companies last decade. But I really wanted to do something more direct with the common good and helping the community and helping people and there’s just such a great need in this country right now.

So I started in 2018, and I would take weekend and evening classes. I was in law school for four years. I finally graduated in June, which was a lot while also working full time but it was really important to me. And now I’m preparing for the bar exam in New York.

Kohei: That’s pretty good results because it is not easy to become a lawyer. So there is very excellent work. So I want you back to something that issues happen during the career, because it’s very important for employees’ privacy. So what did you learn about the privacy rights in the United States through these processes? Could you tell us about it?

To be continued…

Please contact her direct if you want to reach below.

https://gjovik.co/home/contact/ or ashleymgjovik@protonmail.com

Thank you for reading and please contact me if you want to join interview together.

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