Police seize Gizmodo editor's PC over next-gen iPhone

Police seize Gizmodo editor's PC over next-gen iPhone

Summary: This was bound to happen ...


This was bound to happen ... paying for that "found" next-generation iPhone 4g wasn't a good idea.

Last Friday night, California's Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team entered editor Jason Chen's home without him present, seizing four computers and two servers. They did so using a warrant by Judge of Superior Court of San Mateo. According to Gaby Darbyshire, COO of Gawker Media LLC, the search warrant to remove these computers was invalid under section 1524(g) of the California Penal Code.

The search warrent says it all really:

Here is Gawker Media's legal response:

Sam Diaz has more on this story here.

Chen is a journalist - and that immediately puts the validity of the warrant into murky waters. In the legal response to the warrant issued by Gawker, the parent company of Gizmodo, the company is calling for immediate return of the items seized, saying that they fall into the protections granted to journalists.

In countless legal cases, law enforcement officials and courts have tried to get journalists to reveal their sources in the name of justice - even going so far as to jail them for failing to comply with court orders. The very idea that law enforcement officials would break down the door of a journalist to obtain information about a protected source goes against the heart of the First Amendment and protections granted to members of the press.

Topics: Mobility, Hardware, iPhone, Smartphones

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  • Lord Jobs isn't happy

    So glad Microsoft doesn't do this. With all of those leaked beta builds of Windows 7 last summer and Office 2010 recently, we would all have been in big trouble.
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • Not because they're good samaritans, tho

      Microsoft's inaction on that may not be out of benign attitude. It is probably in Microsoft's best interest to get their products in as many people's hands as possible. In Apple's case, it's the other way around.
    • Relevant, how? This action is not Apple's doing

      The DA is investigating whether or not a crime
      has been committed. That's the DA's job. No
      charges have been filed buy the DA (hence the
      investigation to determine if they should be),
      Apple, or anyone else.

      The questions are :
      1) Was a crime committed?
      2) Is the DA overstepping in the pursuit of the
      answer to (1)?
  • Mister Chen will not be thrilled to go to court.

    I read the full article elsewhere. It doesn't look to good for Mr.
    Jason Chen from Gizmodo. When they arrived at their house(9:45
    PM, Sunday) they were greeted by the Police. Luckily he & his wife
    were not arrested at the scene. More news to come, I'm sure.
  • Search and Seizure Laws

    I didn't think it was right for this guy to purchase and
    take apart what was basically stolen property (losing
    something doesn't automatically forfeit all of your
    rights to it), but isn't it also illegal for the police
    to enter a person's house with a search warrant and no
    probable cause if the owner of the house isn't present?
    • There was probable cause.

      He bought a stolen item and gave up trade secrets on the web just for a
      couple of more web hits. I hope for Gizmodo sake, they aren't put out of
    • That's what a Search Warrant IS

      And it's why a judge must sign it. The police have to show enough
      evidence that a crime was committed, and that the person subject to the
      warrant is a probable suspect in the crime or is harboring evidence of
      that crime.

      Really, all the police needed to do was show the judge the Gizmodo
      website. Gizmodo provided all the probable cause themselves.
      Marcos El Malo
  • Hang 'Em High!

    Chen et al knew from the start that they didn't have legal possession of the phone. If they weren't "journalists" this wouldn't be an issue, so I hope that Chen (and everyone connected to him) spend time in jail.
    • On what charge?

      The device was willingly returned, well before this warrant was issued. Since the property in question had already been returned to the owner, what is the felony cited in the warrant?

      Since Mr. Chen is a journalist, the issue is about sources, which he is allowed to withhold information about.

      Why are so fervent about this? Relax and let it play out. Soon we will all know what this is, publicity stunt or industrial espionage.

      I wonder what charges Apple will face if this turns out that one of their own employees, that apparently would have had legal possession, is the source. And if that is so, Mr. Chen has a lawsuit against the San Mateo authorities for illegal search and seizure.
      • Profiteering from stolen property

        The extra hits they received from the reveal could easily count as profiteering from stolen property.
      • What are you talking about?

        What do you mean, what charges will Apple face? What possible
        charges could they face?

        Here are the facts, as we know them:

        1) Chen/Gizmodo knowingly bought stolen property, paying $5,000.
        Please don't insult our intelligence (as Gizmodo has) by asserting they
        were ignorant of this fact. Come on.

        2) After investigating and disassembling the phone, Chen/Gizmodo
        received a communication from Apple requesting the return of the

        3) Chen/Gizmodo returned the phone.

        4) The police began an investigation and obtained a warrant for Mr.
        Chen's computers.

        As you pointed out, the phone [i]was[/i] eventually returned. This
        might ameliorate Chen's criminal liability, [i]if he also cooperates with
        the police[/i]. My guess is that the police obtained a search warrant
        when Chen refused to cooperate and give the police the name of the

        Shield laws are designed to protect reporters' sources of information,
        not sources of stolen property.
        Marcos El Malo
        • As I recall the Pentagon Papers

          were also stolen property. Shield laws exist for a reason -- to protect democracy. I hardly think it is worth demeaning, or worse weakening, them over a leaked iPhone.
        • "stolen"?

          Stolen and lost are not the same thing.
          • Stolen is indeed different than lost, but

            Apple reported the phone as stolen. The search was intended to find evidence of the underlying felony: stealing the phone or buying the stolen phone.

            My point was that even if the phone was stolen that is not a reason to attack the shield law.
  • RE: Police seize Gizmodo editor's PC over next-gen iPhone

    I think this might backfire on Apple. I don't think they should have pursued this. Besides, *was* the phone actually stolen? The guy who found it tried to give it back and was ignored, right?
    • Can you read? This had nothing to do with Apple; it is about FELONY, CRIME

      The subject.
      • Correct

        If Apple wants to get involved they could probably bring a civil suit for damages. Though it seems like the hype couldn't hurt them they could argue otherwise.
    • There's no evidence of that.

      [i]The guy who found it tried to give it back and was ignored, right?[/i]
      • Try This

        The incoming call log into Apple.
        • So let's see it.

          Until there is evidence supporting the claim it's nothing more than a claim.