Not many companies are open to an outside inspection and Apple is one that is not biting the idea of a U.S. monitor. A former inspector general at the Justice Department, Michael Bromwich, was picked by the court as the lawyer to monitor Apple. Apple is not interested in sharing any of its secrets and is fighting every step of the way.
Apple’s resistance to Bromwich has led to an unusual, but public fight between the Justice Department and the world’s largest and most sought after technology company. Apple has aggressively campaigned against Bromwich who was appointed by a federal judge to make sure Apple complied with antitrust laws.
Apple feels that Bromwich is intruding its daily operational progress by seeking interviews with senior executives and board members. Bromwich even demanded to question Tim Cook, the company’s chief executive. Apple says this is getting in the way of their ability to innovate and develop new technologies.
Bromwich’s hourly fee is $1,100 and Apple believes he is using his appointment to generate high fees for his Washington consulting firm and himself.
Judge Denise Cote told Apple and its lawyers, during a hearing on Monday afternoon in the United States District Court in Lower Manhattan, to stop wasting everybody’s time, get with the program and start cooperating with the monitor.
Judge Cote said she was hesitant to appoint a monitor but felt it was necessary given the company’s history of price-fixing. Cote said she was sensitive in times past not to interfere with Apple’s business and for 10 years had rejected previous requests from the Justice Department to appoint a monitor. However, she feels that the move is already having favorable results.
The judge then reminded Apple and its host of attorneys that there isn’t much bargaining room with the role of Bromwich. Judge Cote said the company is in no position to define the monitor’s duties and she wants this to be a success for Apple.
Judge Cote said after months of objections and delays to the monitor’s requests for documents and interviews Apple needs to “restart” its relationship with Bromwich. Apple has no plans to comply anytime soon. Apple’s lawyer ended the hearing by telling the judge that its client intends to continue fighting Bromwich with an appellate court.
Court appointed monitors are common in litigation rulings that are intended to invoke change in a company’s behavior. Apple does not approve of the idea of opening its doors to an appointed monitor just to prove to the judge that the company is changing its ways.
Apple’s resistance comes as no surprise. The company is known for keeping a tight wrap on their operations and products. Although many companies pride themselves on being secretive Apple stands out for its level of secrecy.
There aren’t many companies that surpass Apple when it comes to privacy or that are as punitive as this company when it comes to employees that dare to violate the established privacy rules. Apple has been known to spread misleading information to its own workers about product plans and has fired employees for leaking news to outsiders.
The company’s employers have said Apple makes everyone super paranoid about security. They are prohibited from sharing any details about products or projects they are working on with anyone outside of their immediate team. They can’t even share information with their family members. Many have said they have never seen anything like it at any other place of employment.
Apple’s lawyers argue that Bromwich relentlessly tries to interview some people even after he’s been informed that they have nothing to do with the antitrust procedures.
Bromwich complains that Apple has failed to cooperate and is providing him with “far less access” than he has received in previous monitoring experiences.
Lawrence Buterman, a Justice Department lawyer, told Judge Cote earlier in the proceeding that Apple’s attacks on Bromwich are simply because they don’t want to work with any monitor. They don’t want anyone checking their work.
Apple is not biting the idea of a court appointed monitor and does not want to share any of its secrets. They have no intention to open their doors to an appointed monitor just to prove to the judge that the company is changing its ways. Apple and its legal team have said they will appeal the court’s decision.
By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)