While Apple's CEO Calls for Bloomberg to do the Right Thing and Retract "The Big Hack" Story, Bloomberg says No Chance
On October 4th Patently Apple posted a report titled "Apple Denies Explosive Report about Spy Chips from China infiltrating their Servers." Later that day China responded to the Bloomberg report. By the end of the day Apple had published an official press release debunking "The Big Hack" Bloomberg report in no uncertain terms.
Since that time the story continued to make headlines. We posted yet another story on October 8th on the coverage the story was getting in Taiwan and South Korea in addtion to posting a statement by Homeland Security.
But in all honesty, Homeland Securities statement was very weak: "The Department of Homeland Security is aware of the media reports of a technology supply chain compromise. Like our partners in the UK, the National Cyber Security Centre, at this time we have no reason to doubt the statements from the companies named in the story." Does that mean that at "another time" they'll have reason to doubt the companies denying it?
It's not in the interest of any security agency for this story to be real because it would mean that Chinese spys have outsmarted those in the Five Eyes. The UK's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) are asking people to step forward with credible intelligence because they have nothing. Having nothing isn't the same thing as knowing with certainty.
So it's understandable why Apple's CEO is now stepped up and demaNding that Bloomberg retract their story because the vague statements made by security agencies don't sound all that convincing.
Even BuzzFeed, who published their phone interview with Apple's CEO today, thought that it was an unprecedented move by Apple to go to that extreme of demanding a retraction. Cook told BuzzFeed that "There is no truth in their story about Apple. They need to do the right thing and retract it."
Cook added: "I was involved in our response to this story from the beginning. I personally talked to the Bloomberg reporters along with Bruce Sewell, who was then our general counsel. We were very clear with them that this did not happen, and answered all their questions. Each time they brought this up to us, the story changed, and each time we investigated we found nothing."
Yet Bloomberg was equally quick to respond to Cook's latest statement by saying "Bloomberg Businessweek's investigation is the result of more than a year of reporting, during which we conducted more than 100 interviews. Seventeen individual sources, including government officials and insiders at the companies, confirmed the manipulation of hardware and other elements of the attacks. We also published three companies' full statements, as well as a statement from China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We stand by our story and are confident in our reporting and sources."
One Fortune 500 company that BuzzFeed spoke to admitted that they had investigated the matter and found nothing. One executive told BuzzFeed:
"Please leave us out of this. We weren't mentioned and I don't want us to be. I don't know what the fuck is going on here."
For more on this, read the full BuzzFeed report by John Paczkowski and Joseph Bernstein here.
Other than claiming that the story has no merit and calling for Bloomberg to retract their story, what can Apple do? Will they challenge the first amendment regarding Freedom of Expression? Likely not, but on that point Wikipedia notes that "freedom of the press in the United States is subject to certain restrictions, such as defamation law."
Will Apple go that route to sue Bloomberg into submission? Did the Chinese Government ask Cook to demand the retraction when he met with Chinese officials last week? At the moment there are more questions than answers.
While we await Apple's next possible move on the board, Apple fans are looking forward to the October 30th event in New York for great new products and as little to do with politics as humanly possible.