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AppleInsider's Cabal of Thieves

AppleInsider's Cabal of Thieves

by , 3:30 PM EDT, August 3rd, 2000

[Editor's Note: This story has been updated since it's posting on August 3rd. You can read more about that in my personal apology to the readers of AppleInsider. We also incorrectly quoted something to "worker bee" that was actually written by someone else. That too has been corrected.]

This week the media, from CNBC to the Mac Web, was awash with the news that Apple had initiated a high profile witch hunt for nondisclosure agreement violators. Apple suspects that a cabal of trade secret thieves exists and has labeled them Doe 1 through 25 in a lawsuit designed to flush them from the ranks of the Mac Faithful.

Evidence gathered from stock boards, forum postings, and Mac sites seems to point to AppleInsider as being the venue for most of these so-called trade secret violators by providing them with a public forum in which to express themselves before a sympathetic audience.

Apple's first step in what could be a long process appears to be the securing of a subpoena that would allow the company to look at Geocities' records to identify the IP address of so-called "Doe 1". The second step is to sue Doe 1 for damages associated with the disclosure of Apple's trade secrets in violation of his NDA. Or if Doe 1 turns out to be an Apple employee, he or she breached their "Intellectual Property Agreement". If it should turn out that Doe 1 was not subject to an NDA or could not be traced to one, then it is doubtful that Apple would have recourse.

Meanwhile, the search for Doe 2 through 25 should keep this case in the spotlight as Apple obtains more subpoenas and files more suits in the weeks to come. The Does are facing damage claims due to their contractual violations that could easily run into the millions of dollars. At the very least, their careers (or the careers of their sources) are ruined and their legal expenses alone are likely to be more than their unemployment benefit will support.

MacNN reports that Apple claims, "beginning in or about February 2000, Doe 1, alone or in concert with Does 2 through 25, began disseminating Apple Future Product Information to the public. Among other things, Defendant or Defendants posted digital images of undisclosed future Apple products on publicly accessible areas of the Internet." More specifically, the spies posted images of the Apple Pro Mouse and Dual-processor G4 machines.

With a bit of sleuthing, the Mac Observer was able to find the specific posts by someone calling himself "worker bee" at AppleInsider's forums.

In worker bee's post of February 16th he says, "look here for pic of dual g4", and then includes this link, http://www.geocities.com/mystery_bee/index.html, which is now dead. Another forum poster replied, "Worker Bee, you dog! Where can I get one of those? Can I get one of those? Please don't tease. Did you make that? Is it real?" Worker bee quickly responds, "ve(r)y real dual 450mp".

A poster name Kasper admires worker bee, "Worker bee, Please drop me a line at kasper@appleinsider.com or provide us with some form of contact info for you via other means. We'd love to go out for some beers with you, or just shoot the ****. All the best, Kasper AppleInsider.com." Kasper turns out to be Kasper Jade, the editor of Apple Insider.

Worker bee shrewdly replies, "thanks for the offer, but I can't." Later he teases Kasper by inviting another poster to party, "Drop ME a line sometime, I'd like to sell you some of my old Atari cartridges and Planet of the Apes action figures. I'll need to get you to buy me a pitcher of margaritas of course. Kasper can come along but he'll have to sit two tables away and stuff cotton in his ears. We can invite some of the hotty chicks on the boards to come hang out with us. It'll be a party."

Much later in the Apple Insider's "future hardware" forum from July 9th, a poster by the handle of Apple Otaku summarizes the total content of worker bee's insider knowledge in what could soon become court room evidence:

"Worker Bee has said a lot in regard to many products. He has also posted pictures of what apparently are a new mouse and MP G4 card. These were done with anonymous Geocities accounts which adds fuel to the fire. He has said the following about new products in general: quote: keyboard is new, has volume up and down. mute and eject. mouse is new. optical it is. the mouse doesn't really rock. Just the top half of the shell seems to click down when pushed. Those two things on the side aren't really buttons. They're part of the base. They don't click at all. They help in clicking the "button". I don't have pics of the keyboard, sorry. Think of the Apple Design keyboard, and where the LEDs were showing num lock, caps lock, and scroll lock, there are now volume up, volume down, play, and eject buttons. I don't have the mouse anymore so I don't think I'll be able to get pictures of the underside. Sorry. The pictures came out pretty dark, but the mouse glows red when in use. New iMac is coming, but not very exciting. Speed increase, up to 500mhz. New G4 unit is coming also, but it looks really cool. Current prototypes are housed in a black box the size of a Kleenex® tissue box. Opened, the box reveals the tiniest of motherboards. Three ram slots, one AGP slot, and a G4 processor. Fastest is 450mhz. Then there's the new iBook with a firewire port. Finally the MP G4s. Clockwork. Not Mystic. Mystic shipped a long time ago. Speeds up to 450. The summer cpu's are as follows: Midway= new firewire iBook Trinity= small G4 based computer Perigee= revised iMacClockwork= MP G4 fall cpu: Mercury= G4 PowerBook The new Keyboard and mouse are summer items as well. The only two items I know for sure that will have a new enclosure are the Mercury and Trinity. Because they are currently in proto enclosures. The Clockwork and the Trinity, which use a G4, don't seem to be using DDR memory. They are also not using G4e or G4+. Bus speed appears to be the same. Unfortunately. That's all for now."

This is the post which we suspect forced Apple to say -- enough is enough, this mole has to exposed and stopped.

The Mac Observer Spin:

Apple is a paranoid company, but as the old saying goes, just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you!

Worker bee is a bad apple for sure. But it is AppleInsider that encourages this type of criminal activity. AppleInsider's forums are a sewer for losers in search of their long lost self-esteem. The nature of AppleInsider's business is closer to a porno site than a legitimate news source. They are part and parcel of that dark underbelly of the Internet we all know exists.

It's a shame that AppleInsider provides a comfortable home for a cabal of twerps who wish they were on the inside at Apple. But it's even worse that AppleInsider is fed by a few truly demented individuals who really are malicious moles in Apple or Apple-related organizations. Apple certainly has every right to hunt down NDA or IPA violators and prosecute them to the full extent of the law.

The Mac Faithful community should pester AppleInsider to change its foul ways. AppleInsider does not support or offer useful critiques of Apple Inc. in any way. In fact, AppleInsider is offering a forum for those who hate Apple and would sell out the company's secret for the mere approval of their pseudonymous cohorts. Is it possible that Kasper might work for an eMachines and would like to meet worker bee to offer him real cash for information on future products?

It appears that AppleInsider's forums do harbor true corporate spies and the forum chatter leads this observer to believe that money has changed hands in the past for Apple's trade secrets. Can AppleInsider be held liable for aiding and abetting criminal activities and shut down -- much like a social club that is in reality a front for prostitution or drug dealing?

AppleInsider will claim full protection under the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights to conduct these forums which are an offense to common decency. We are big supporters of the First Amendment right to free speech and to peaceably assemble. They have the right to publish just about anything they want. And we are well within our rights to call a den of thieves a den of thieves!

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