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Police Seize Gizmodo Reporter's PCs Over Leaked iPhone

Discussion in 'Tech Talk - Gadgets, Gizmos and Technology' started by bobukcat, Apr 26, 2010.

  1. bobukcat

    bobukcat Hall Of Fame

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    This story could have some serious ramifications for the whole tech-blogging world as a whole. Should be interesting to see how it plays out and if Apple was behind it or if a D.A. took it upon him / herself.

    http://gizmodo.com/5524843/
     
  2. Davenlr

    Davenlr Geek til I die

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    Just typical of the current legal system...
     
  3. harsh

    harsh Beware the Attack Basset

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    What do they hope to find in this reporter's notes that isn't already out there?

    What charges would they press?

    Against whom would they press charges?

    Was this done through a warrant or probable cause?

    The slopes don't get much greasier than this.
     
  4. bobukcat

    bobukcat Hall Of Fame

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    The story is unusual in that it appears that they (Gizmodo) might have been expecting it because their COO and Legal Counsel had prepped the reporter (Chen) with references to California law that exempts reports from search / seizure. The officers had a search warrant and since he wasn't at home they kicked in his door (he can apparently apply for re-reimbursement for that). I also think its unusual that the are publishing the letter they sent to the Detective on their website, usually people don't want to publicize what is going on in a legal dispute but I suppose Gizmodo figures it can only help the number of hits they get.

    I really like your question of what do they expect to find that hasn't already been published? I hadn't thought of it that way but it is certainly a valid point. The only thing I can think of is that they want to know who found the device and eventually turned it over to Gizmodo and if they paid that person. If the reporter hadn't returned the device to Apple when they were asked for it I can see them having a real issue, as it is I think they have no one to blame but themselves.
     
  5. dpeters11

    dpeters11 Hall Of Fame

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    I'd think Apple knows who found it, he called them and apparently even got a ticket number.
     
  6. Sharkie_Fan

    Sharkie_Fan Hall Of Fame

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    As to the question of what they would find.... It seems to me, reading the warrant (and no, I am not a lawyer, so take it for what it's worth), they want to show that the apple employee sold the phone directly to Gizmodo, or that Jason Chen somehow manipulated situation to get the phone from the apple employee.

    I don't know exactly how that changes things, if Gizmodo got the phone directly from the employee rather than paying some 3rd party who "found" the phone on the floor in a bar... but that's what I read into the warrant.

    As to the letter, etc... Certainly Gizmodo was expecting this. Sounds like the detective had already contacted Jason Chen, or his bosses, looking for information... and so everyone was put 'on notice' as to what the police could do (and might want to do beyond that).

    As has already been pointed out.... it's a slippery slope...
     
  7. The Merg

    The Merg 1*

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    Reading the Search Warrant, it doesn't appear that they are looking at Jason Chen just to get the source of his info, but rather looking at him as an accomplice to the crime of the stolen iPhone. I didn't read anything prior as to what he wrote regarding the 4G phone or what photos he might have posted, but if he actually had the phone in hand and knew he shouldn't have it, he could be charged with possession of stolen property regardless of his journalistic ties.

    - Merg
     
  8. TBlazer07

    TBlazer07 Grumpy Grampy

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    There was something on the news recently where a blogger invoked the "reporters right to not identify a source" and an appeals court rejected it saying a blogger is not considered a reporter.

    I found it .... it was in my State of NJ. That would be an interesting precedent.
    http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1202451742674

     
  9. Earl Bonovich

    Earl Bonovich Lifetime Achiever

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    Disappointing... very disappointing to read that this is going on.
     
  10. Stewart Vernon

    Stewart Vernon Roving Reporter Staff Member Super Moderator DBSTalk Club

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    I'm reserving judgment until all the facts come out.

    If it turns out the reporter knew he was buying a stolen phone OR bought it directly from the Apple employee... then that's a whole 'nother can of worms than just having acquired something they didn't know was stolen.

    At a minimum, in a situation like this, to even publish the article about a prototype iPhone they had to know that they were in possession of something dicey in the first place. If that is compounded by further entanglements, then I'd understand why all the police involvement.
     
  11. dpeters11

    dpeters11 Hall Of Fame

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    A guy with a blog might not get the same protections, but a site like Gizmodo is different.

    It's also interesting that the case Gawker Media cited also involves Apple.

    http://www.internetlibrary.com/cases/lib_case430.cfm
     
  12. The Merg

    The Merg 1*

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    I'll go back to what I posted in that my guess is the angle they are taking is his possession of the stolen property and not "who is his source". Of course, if he gives up his source, he might fair better in court by being a cooperative defendent.

    Remember, most journalistic shield cases look at the journalist as being a material witness with evidentiary information. In this case, it appears he is being looked at as a defendant.

    - merg
     
  13. Herdfan

    Herdfan Well-Known Member

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    Teays...
    I will reserve judgement as well, but from what I have read, the phone was found, not stolen. Plus, if the finder really did try to contact Apple to return it and Apple didn't seem to want it, then the seller and the buyer should be in the clear. Plus, Gizmodo returned it as soon as they were asked.

    Apple is just ticked this leaked out and want to try and scare the next person who tries this.

    Now if the employee sold the phone, or "left it somewhere", then the whole situation changes.
     
  14. Nick

    Nick Retired, part-time PITA DBSTalk Club

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    Whenever the complexities of contemporary life begin to overwhelm, I tend to revert to what I learned in childhood. While Apple continues to chip away at its reputation by pursuing unproductive legal avenues to distract attention from their own monstrous gaffe, I just want to shout at Steve Jobs, "Finders keepers, losers weepers!", and to Gizmodo, I call out "Ollie, ollie ox, and all in free!"
     
  15. bobukcat

    bobukcat Hall Of Fame

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    Here is a question in my mind: if the Apple employee snuck the phone out of the building and then lost it does it become stolen property?? What if he was actually allowed to take the device out of the building as Alpha testers (I work for an electronics manufacturer and that is common practice for the Engineers) and lost it - certainly it's not stolen property at that point, correct? I just don't see any real crime being committed if he paid the finder some amount of money for the device with the purpose of reporting on what he found, especially when he returned the device to Apple as soon as they asked for it back (if Apple wouldn't have denied it was an iPhone they would have gotten it back sooner). The Apple employee is certainly bound not to disclose company secrets but that doesn't apply to a reporter who finds their product.

    Either way the section of California code that they cited makes it look like Chen is clearly exempted from search and seizure regarding actions pursuant to his job.

    I'm looking forward to seeing how this one plays out.
     
  16. kfcrosby

    kfcrosby Godfather

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    I guess iPhones are dangerous controlled substances which warranted the extreme actions taken by the police department to recover any evidence available.

    I am sure we would have had the same results if this had been a Nikon Camera.....

    /scarcasm
     
  17. The Merg

    The Merg 1*

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    Of course, finding a lost phone is a different entity all together. Has it come out how Chen acquired the phone? Considering the security that Apple was using to keep the phone locked down, it would be known what Apple employee was assigned the phone. By the time the phone showed up, Apple would most likely have already known whether the phone was stolen, lost, or given away against company policy.

    In the case of Chen, if he got the phone from a non-Apple employee, the fact that it was a prototype, would imply that the phone was illegally obtained to begin with. If he got it from an Apple employee, depending on the circumstances ("hey, don't tell anyone I gave this to you"), could also imply that he knew it was illegal for him to possess it.

    As for the journalist exemption, once again, that only applies in his performance as a journalist. If he is in possession of stolen property, that is a crime in itself and that CA code section would not apply.

    - Merg
     
  18. The Merg

    The Merg 1*

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    The police executed a search warrant. From reading the article, it doesn't seem like they did anything extreme. Since he wasn't home, they forced entry into the house. And as Chen points out, they repeatedly told him how to file a reimbursement claim for the damage.

    - Merg
     
  19. LarryFlowers

    LarryFlowers New Member

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    Couple of problems here...

    1. California law recognizes bloggers as journalists.
    2. I think that there is a good case that the authorities may have broken state law.
    3. Like it or not, Federal law states the officials " cannot seize material from the journalist even if it’s investigating whether the person who possesses the material committed a crime."
    4. The police involved in the seizure were part of the California Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team... and Apple is on an advisory board to the Team.
     
  20. Greg Alsobrook

    Greg Alsobrook Lifetime Achiever

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    Unless I'm mistaken, it's not clear what role Apple has (if any) in this police raid (or entire investigation for that matter). It's funny how some of the media plays it up... "Steve Jobs goes Jack Bauer on Gizmodo". I don't know that Jobs/Apple has anything to do with this whatsoever. What I think this does prove is, is that the phone wasn't a plant. I think Apple would have stepped in and cleared that up once the police got involved.

    This whole story has quite a few head-scratchers. Why wasn't the phone locked with a 4-digit passcode? Why didn't the guy who found it just turn it into the bartender like any normal person would do? Why didn't he insist to be pushed further up the chain when calling Apple? Why would you sell a phone that you found in a bar? That just has illegal written all over it.

    Either way... It does look like some laws may have been broken in the raid itself. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.
     

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