In 2005, David Shayer was sitting in his office when he was asked by Apple to take on a "special Mission" for the company: Help the US Department of Energy create a "top secret" iPod.
Shayer, one of the first engineers software hired to work on the US government's first iPod, described his "mission" to a blog post this week. Aside from the head of iPod software, who approached him that day, Shayer claimed that only two others within Apple knew about the project. One was the iPod vice president and the other was the senior vice president hardware. All those involved have since left the company, he said.
Shayer said he met with two engineers from Bechtel, a supplier defense of the US, and they told him that they would fix the iPod, and all he had to do was provide any help they needed from Apple. IPods were supposed to look and work like normal, but they would contain some custom hardware that could record data and not be detected by the average user, Shayer.
"It was not a collaboration with her Bechtel with contract and payment, "Shayer wrote. "It was Apple that did a favor for the Department of Energy."
Apple, Bechtel and the Department of Energy did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the iPod privacy report.
The alleged cooperation with the government to add secret features to Apple products, is in stark contrast to the company's conflicts with FBI and the Ministry of Justice in recent years, due to its refusal to build backdoors into a iPhone. Apple has repeatedly reacted to the demands of the American authorities by claiming that it does not want to put risk the privacy of its users.
Shayer said he never found out what kind of hardware the two engineers wanted to add to the secret iPod, and noted that they were careful to keep it a secret from him. However, he has a theory: they may have built a "Stealth Geiger meter" to measure radioactivity.