Apple fires staff after claims they rated female customers' bodies in 'photo sharing ring'
Apple has fired several members of staff at an Australian store amid allegations they stole customers' private photos from their phones in order to rank their appearances out of 10.
The company has denied reports saying staff and customers together formed a "photo sharing ring" in which pictures of customers were taken from their devices then shared with employees at a number of different stores in the Queensland area of Australia.
However, it said it does "not tolerate behaviour that goes against our values".
The Brisbane Times said that several members of staff removed pictures from customers' phones that were brought in for repair, as well as taking more than 100 surreptitious photos of customers and staff in the store for the game.
Apple has fired four male employees from the store, according to local reports. The company denies that any customers were victims, and said it had "seen no evidence that customer data or photos were inappropriately transferred or that anyone was photographed" by the removed staff members.
"Apple believe in treating everyone equally and with respect, and we do not tolerate behaviour that goes against our values," it said.
An anonymous worker told Australia's News Corp: "One person would take a photo and add it to the chat and others would give the person or their butt or their boobs a rating out of 10 and they would add their own side commentary.
"Everyone feels uncomfortable and the female staff don't know how to feel because the leadership won't tell staff who is involved."
Another staff member said they had seen a Genius Bar technician scrolling through a customers' phone, while a third employee said the "disgusting" practice could be happening in other Apple stores in Queensland and across Australia.
Apple said: "We are investigating a violation of Apple's business conduct policy at our store in Carindale.
"We have met with our store team to let them know about the investigation and inform them about the steps Apple is taking to protect their privacy."
Australia's privacy commissioner, which is investigating the complaint, said: "This is an important reminder that all organisations that collect and manage personal information need to embed a culture of privacy and ensure employees understand their responsibilities.
"Organisations must also take reasonable steps to protect the personal information they hold from misuse, inference and loss, as well as unauthorised access, modification or disclosure."