As a general rule, the tech industry rumor mill is a pretty tame beast. We're not the paparazzi, we don't stalk people or break into the homes of prominent engineers to get scoops. That said, info leaks are something that companies take very seriously. If a major product announcement hits the Internet too early it could end up killing the inertia of a new product or giving competitors time to respond. That's why Apple keeps such tight security and treats its employees so strictly.
Unfortunately, this pressure sometimes has victims. One of those victims was Sun Danyong, a 25 year-old engineer who worked in the Foxconn plant in Shenzhen. On July 9th Sun received sixteen prototype 4th generation iPhones, one of which quickly disappeared from his office. Although Sun reported ignorance to its whereabouts, Foxconn sent employees to search his apartment and, it is rumored, to rough him up for info.
Apparently the stress was just too much for Sun. Last Thursday he leapt to his death from the window of his apartment building. While the suicide was his decision and no one else's, it is likely that Foxconn's heavy-handed policies had a big part to play in his death. Apple has strict secrecy standards for any company that works with them. Foxconn likely reacted to the leak as something that could severely damage their working relationship with Apple. That doesn't excuse breaking into a man's apartment, though.
Incidentally, it doesn't appear that the case of the missing fourth generation iPhone was ever solved. If a whole slew of 'leaked pictures' of a new iPhone hit the Internet in a few weeks, we'll know where they came from.
Apple responses to this incident on CNET.
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