Apple locks top secret-spiller out of his developer account

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Rambo
Is Apple trying to silence Guilherme Rambo?
Photo: Twitter

Guilherme Rambo, one of the top Apple secret-spillers, says Apple locked him out of his developer account, preventing him from accessing critical tools needed to create and update iOS and Mac apps.

In a blog post detailing his problem, Rambo revealed that Apple locked him out in August. Since then, all his attempts to resolve the issue met a dead end, he says. Rambo’s post doesn’t mention that he digs through Apple beta software looking for clues about unreleased Apple products — and publishes his findings on 9to5Mac. That might be the precise reason why he’s locked out.

A famously secretive company, Apple historically took harsh measures against leakers and rumor mongers. In 2007, Apple shuttered the Think Secret blog where reporter Nick Ciarelli published his scoops. And Apple moved aggressively against Gizmodo in 2010 after the website paid $5,000 for a lost iPhone 4 prototype and proceeded to publish details of a teardown months before the device’s release.

Since then, Apple seems to have taken a much less harsh stance when it comes to leaks and rumors. CEO Tim Cook said he would double down on secrecy about the company’s product pipeline, but details continue to leak — often buried in Apple’s own code.

Over the last few years, Rambo unearthed some of the biggest Apple scoops. By rummaging deep inside new beta builds of iOS and macOS, he finds juicy details about new software and hardware features coming to the iPhone, iPad and Mac, consistently spoiling Apple’s big surprises. Recently he found images of the AirPods Pro before Apple launched the high-end wireless headphones.

Silencing the scoop machine?

Rambo says Apple will not specifically tell him why his account remains locked. We asked Apple’s PR team if the lockdown happened because of the scoops Rambo unearthed, but we haven’t received a reply yet. When we asked Rambo if that could be the reason, he said he thinks it very well could be.

“I can’t say for sure since they haven’t said anything about it to me,” Rambo told Cult of Mac. “But I think it’s safe to assume it could be related to that.”

Rambo says all his attempts to speak with a human Apple employee about his locked account over the past few months have failed. According to Rambo, the only information he’s been given is that his account is “disabled for security reasons,” and that Apple is still investigating the situation.

Unfortunately, Rambo’s successful apps got hit by the crossfire. He created a popular unofficial Mac app for Apple’s annual Worldwide Developers Conference. His anime studio avatar maker, ChibiStudi, boasts 100,000 active users on iOS. And his AirPods app for Mac, AirBuddy, has tens of thousands of users. Rambo says he cannot update any of those apps until Apple restores access to his developer account.

Guilherme Rambo: Beta spelunker

While Apple rumor-lovers are thirsty for every tidbit of info Rambo unearths, Apple would be much happier to find a way to stop the leaks. Locking the developer out of his account won’t stop him from accessing beta builds and finding scoops. Instead of punishing Rambo for finding clues, maybe Apple should leave those clues out of beta builds.

To Apple’s (likely) point, developers — and even public beta testers — do sign nondisclosure agreements saying they will not share details from beta builds with the public. If Apple locked Rambo out for breaking the rules, the company should at least admit it.