Prosecutors defend Gizmodo search; ID seller

Prosecutors defend Gizmodo search; ID seller

Summary: San Mateo County prosecutors are defending the search of a editor's home and seizure of his computers that were part of a criminal investigation into an iPhone prototype lost by an Apple employee.

San Mateo County prosecutors are defending the search of a editor's home and seizure of his computers that were part of a criminal investigation into an iPhone prototype lost by an Apple employee.

Stephen Wagstaffe, chief deputy district attorney, told CNET on Tuesday evening that prosecutors had considered whether reporter shield laws applied to the search and seizure aimed at the gadget blog--and decided to proceed after carefully reviewing the rules.

"My prosecutor who is handling it considered this issue right off the bat when it was being brought into him and had some good reasons why he and the judge felt the warrant was properly issued," Wagstaffe said.

Gizmodo's parent company, Gawker Media, has said that the search warrant is "invalid," citing a California law curbing newsroom searches. So has the Electronic Frontier Foundation. On the other hand, if Gizmodo employees are targets of the criminal investigation themselves, it's likely that the law's protections do not apply.

Wagstaffe confirmed that law enforcement has identified the person who allegedly found the iPhone in a bar and then began shopping it around to news organizations, including Gizmodo,, and Engadget. Gizmodo has acknowledge buying it for $5,000 and then returning it to Apple.

For more on this story, read Prosecutors defend Gizmodo search in iPhone probe on CNET News.

Topics: Mobility, Browser, CXO, Hardware, iPhone, Smartphones

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  • RE: Prosecutors defend Gizmodo search; ID seller

    I'm glad they finally IDed the guy who stole and sold the prototype to Gizmodo... and somehow now that it's been revealed he's gone to others to try to sell the device it seems somehow worse. Hopefully they will throw the book at him and make an example of ANYONE who does this sort of thing to ANY company.

    I wonder who will be the first to post that this is still some sort of Apple-backed publicity stunt?
    • Did he steal it? I heard that Apple left it in the bar

      on a stool in plain sight.

      It's not like someone illegally got a hold of some confidential MS business plans inand posted them on the web on Halloween, or something.
      John Zern
      • @John Zern

        Are you still riding that tired old donkey? [b]APPLE[/b] did not leave it on a barstool, a drunk engineer who works for Apple did...

        Semantics perhaps but that aside, it's not the point that Grey Powell left it on a barstool, the point is the dude who picked it up made a feeble effort to return the phone - if indeed he actually made that effort... that part is all heresay... IF he had made a sincere and reasonable effort to return the device he would have either left it with the bartender or the manager at the bar OR turned it into the police. He did neither but instead made - IMHO based on the articles I've read - a half-assed attempt to locate the owner and then lit out of that bar thinking he had a free iPhone... when he figured out what he actually had, he went shopping for bidders. So yes he did in fact steal the device. And yes I'd say the same thing no matter what device made by whatever company running whatever OS...
      • Isn't there a law about "Finders keepers, losers weepers?" :D [nt]

    • @ athynz

      "I wonder who will be the first to post that this is still some sort of
      Apple-backed publicity stunt?"

      Most of the usual suspects here of course.

      "Gizmodo's parent company, Gawker Media, has said that the search
      warrant is "invalid," citing a California law curbing newsroom searches."

      Well to quote Mandy Rice-Davies "Well, he would, wouldn't he?"
    • @athynz - You just did.

      Posted by: athynz Posted on: 04/28/10:[i]
      "I wonder who will be the first to post that this is still some sort of Apple-backed publicity stunt?"[/i]

      There is no such thing as bad publicity except your own obituary.
      ~ Brendan Behan, Irish author & dramatist (1923 - 1964)[/i]
      • LOL!

        I meant who will post one and be serious about it... there are still some idiots who think that Apple is doing this for hype and publicity... and I have to admit at first it could have been but now? And after having involved the police? Not likely.
    • Not a publicity stunt but excuse me if I'm skeptical of motives

      I think it's more likely Apple was pissed someone got there new OS before they could have magical enveiling .

      could there be a chance someone from Apple made a call to the DA? Apple corporate offices are in Ca. Do you think they might have some money to throw around at politicians?

      If you dropped a phone in a bar and someone picked it up, do you think the DA would be breaking down doors to recover it.
      Turd Furgeson
      • I never said that Apple

        wasn't going to move heaven and earth to find the ones who are responsible for this and do their best to make sure they are punished - look at the lawsuits Apple has filed. I'm just saying that this no sort of publicity stunt by Apple as some idiots out there are saying.
      • Motives? DUH!

        It's all pretty simple. Apple made the call, we know that. [b]Of
        course[/b] they did. They had a resource, the [i]REACT[/i], so they
        used it. They're making a statement as big, or bigger than Gizmodo's
        which is "don't fu?k with us!" (remember, Gawker Media had an "Apple
        Scavenger Hunt" offering to pay various amounts for secret Apple
        info). They're reaping what they've sown. As for the DA, I'm sure they
        didn't need too much encouragement to go after the guys who clearly
        committed a California crime and then put the proof on their website.
        Finally, while the DA wouldn't likely breaking down doors in regards to
        a phone [i]you[/i] lost, I'm willing to bet that they'd do the same thing
        in the same situation for Palm, Google or any other company who
        asked (and you [b]know[/b] they would despite what Andy Rubin jokes
      • Especially w/ Apple not responding to the Finder's Call! Smells Fishy! ;)

        It's all just cover for not jumping on it when they
        had the chance. In order to make Apple look like they
        are hard core about protecting something that was a
        basic non-working prototype in the first place. You'd
        think if they were really worried about it in the
        beginning, they'd been looking for it and let people
        know it was missing then. Especially after the
        guy called them, to no avail!!!

        So what does he think? ....well I guess they don't
        really want it returned, so I'll sell it!

        Apple for their part are now like cops on a crime
        scene w/ a throw away gun in a set up to nab the guy
        they framed!!!

        That's like a cop sitting under a bridge, down a hill,
        next to the lower speed change sign to write speeding
        tickets! .....or worse no visible car in Helicopter
        Speed Trap on the same downhill stretch where everyone
        is going over the speed limit and can't see the sign
        under the bridge. It's simple eeeny meeeny miney mo law
        enforcement to slow traffic down!

        When and if they discovered their super duper secret
        nex-gen iPhone non-functioning prototype was gone,
        then their first step would be to get it in the news.
        After making calls to the bar, where no contact was
        ever made by Apple until after the fact! Why didn't
        they broadcast it in the news with an offer of a
        reward for it's return? Instead they took no positive
        steps to claim it as their's until Gizmodo called them
        to offer it's return. I'm saying Apple was calling
        "Fire or Thief" after the fact to take advantage of
        the publicity in a set up or dumb move by an employee
        leaving a top secret device in a bar? WTF???? lol...
        their indifference demonstrated this as a bogus
        publicity plan in the first place!

        Again w/ Gizmodo, NOTHING! announcements, no
        reward and that even after Gizmodo had contacted them
        specifically again to return it, just like the guy
        that'd found it had. So they Gizmodo simply returns
        this junk phone (that didn't even have a camera) and
        the next thing you know his home gets invaded with an
        improper issued search & seizure for an object that
        wasn't even on the premises!

        If Gizmodo doesn't sue the county over this, I'd be
        surprised and you know.... who'd be packing attorney's
        into the court house with them! ... Electronic
        Frontier Foundation and they don't get into this stuff
        to lose a case either!!!

        btw... just knowing this is going to be fun to watch.
        Especially after Apple is forced to reveal all their
        security steps of that engineer getting off the
        premises with their super secret device into public!
        I call foul as in fowl stinky Apple's Evil Lies will
        then be revealed!!!
        • Research the facts before you say Apple's wrong


          Wow - you have a lot of hatred and little knowledge of the facts.

          Apple DID go to this iPhone "finder's" (i.e. thief) house where they were turned away. The finder did admit that he wishes he did more to return the phone.

    • Is apple mean spirited

      And why should I give this corporation my support or money?
  • RE: Prosecutors defend Gizmodo search; ID seller

    Look at this article:

    Under a California law dating back to 1872, any person who finds lost property and knows who the owner is likely to be--but "appropriates such property to his own use"--is guilty of theft. There are no exceptions for journalists. In addition, a second state law says any person who knowingly receives property that has been obtained illegally can be imprisoned for up to one year.


    The man, who reportedly approached Wired editors about buying the prototype iPhone at the same time he contacted Engadget and Gizmodo, told Wired in an interview that people who claimed to be representing Apple arrived at the home of the man who found the phone and asked to search the premises.


    The man Wired interviewed claimed that the man who found the phone attempted to return it to Apple and also find the owner, but those efforts failed. "The idea wasn't to find out who was going to pay the most, it was, 'Who's going to confirm this?'" the source said.

    It must be noted that before selling it to Gizmodo, someone who claimed to have the phone contacted multiple media outlets, including Wired and Engadget. Editors at both news organizations confirmed that they were contacted not about verifying whether the phone was legitimate but about their interest in buying the device.


    This sounds more and more like he tried to make it look like he made a reasonable effort to return the device to cover his azz, and when that "failed" he decided to sell it to the highest bidder.
  • RE: Prosecutors defend Gizmodo search; ID seller

    "Did he steal it? I heard that Apple left it in the bar"

    You are now bringing "hearsay" into this as an argument?
    You were in the bar when it happened John? We only have
    Gizmodo's side of the story to confirm it - how do you
    KNOW it wasn't pick-pocketed from his jacket? How can
    you be so sure?

    If he was serious about returning it, handing a product
    over to the barman would have been the obvious way to
    go. Either way selling an unreleased product to the highest
    bidder pretty much says all you need to know about how
    hard he tried to return it.

    For all their smarmy reportage on the thing Gizmodo
    deserve all the nukage coming down upon them.
  • RE: Prosecutors defend Gizmodo search; ID seller

    One step closer to finding out the real story. Hopefully Gizmodo gets b-slapped by this. And if they do, I can see Jason Chen looking for a new job.
    Loverock Davidson
  • Too many prosecutors on the payroll if they have time for this

    Exactly how many violent criminals will this keep off the streets?

    No need to waste any taxpayer dollars on this crap, even if the phone hadnt already been found and returned.

    Let's see some one report who exactly brought this to the prosecutors and who exactly in the prosecutors office decided this would be a good use of tax payers money.

    Does this decision maker know theyre going to release violent criminals from prison due to budget shortfalls? And they still think this is a good idea?
    Johnny Vegas
    • And how many violent criminals

      would be taken in or kept in had this never happened?

      Very likely it would be the same amount either way.
  • RE: Prosecutors defend Gizmodo search; ID seller

    if that had been any private citizen the Prosecutor would have told the person to go pound sand.... since it's Apple, of course the prosecutors are willing to spend dozens of hours researching the issues so that they can make a case.... not fair, not right, completely immoral.
  • Good Products....but Dumb people...

    Why are they being so stupid? You lose the phone in a bar because of a drunk employee. Now you declare it was stolen so you can use OUR taxpayers money to punish someone for your company's mistake. You should have fired whoever left it there. Don't waste our taxpayers money Apple !!