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Crime Iphone The Courts The Media

Police Seize Computers From Gizmodo Editor 1204

Posted by Soulskill
from the stuff-just-got-real dept.
secretcurse writes "California police have served a search warrant and seized computers from Jason Chen, the Gizmodo editor who unveiled the 4th-generation iPhone to the world. Gawker Media's COO has replied claiming that the warrant was served illegally due to Mr. Chen's status as a journalist. The plot thickens..."
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Police Seize Computers From Gizmodo Editor

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  • by LostCluster (625375) * on Monday April 26, 2010 @04:41PM (#31989590)

    enGadget is owned by Time Warner... they have lawyers, and those lawyers told them not to touch this story.

    Gawker apparently didn't check before the leaped... and Apple's got much bigger bucks than they do.

    • Yea but (Score:3, Insightful)

      by arcite (661011)
      Gawker received approximately 8 million hits last week, ergo they are swimming in oodles of extra ad revenue. Apple is just milking a new and profitable revenue stream, or at least their legion of blood sucking lawyers are.

      Nothing to worry about.

      Move along.

      Sent from my iPad.

    • Just give us a name (Score:5, Interesting)

      by nobodyman (90587) on Monday April 26, 2010 @04:50PM (#31989774) Homepage

      Apple was being too quiet last week. I knew the other shoe would drop, it was just a matter of time. If Chen is lucky, the police are really more interested in the identity of the thief (if they don't know it already).

      However, my guess is that the police are trying to build a strong case that Giz definitely knew it was stolen prior to paying $5000 for the device. Not sure who goes down in a situation like that: whether it's Jason Chen or Nick Denton.

  • Journalist? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy@@@gmail...com> on Monday April 26, 2010 @04:41PM (#31989594) Journal

    Wait, what? Journalists are immune from having their computers seized? In what dreamworld? They have the exact same first amendment protections as the rest of us. No more, no less. If Apple can get a warrant (which they obviously can), those computers are fair game, along with anything else that might be relevant to the charges.

    The only reason that, traditionally, journalists had extra privileges was because they worked for large litigious media outlets who wouldn't put up with that horseshit, and the government was rightfully wary. These days, not so much.

    Apple has a long history of suing people over trade secret violations, and since all you have to have to be a "trade secret" is simply to be arguably valuable, and, you know, secret, it's not hard to do. In this case I imagine they're looking in to charging them for full-on corporate espionage (which is a felony) and which the guy may be open to, depending on how he obtained the phone.

    • Re:Journalist? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by LostCluster (625375) * on Monday April 26, 2010 @04:44PM (#31989656)

      Read the Gawker Media response... they're claiming that Jason Chen's home was a "newsroom" and therefore exempt from contempt changes and warrents. We'll see if this holds water when they try to get any evidence from this search kept away from the jury.

      • Re:Journalist? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by BasilBrush (643681) on Monday April 26, 2010 @04:47PM (#31989706)

        The law quoted only protects from search warrants intended to discover the source of a journalist's INFORMATION. It of course doesn't protect from search warrants intended to discover the source of a journalist's STOLEN GOODS.

      • Re:Journalist? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy@@@gmail...com> on Monday April 26, 2010 @04:49PM (#31989734) Journal

        Newspaper offices aren't exempt from crap. They're out of their minds. (disclaimer: sitting in a newspaper office right now)

        Historically, whenever a journalist has been jailed for not ratting out a source, the cops have pulled all their stuff right off their desks. There is no legal exemption just because you happen to work for a media outlet.

        • Re:Journalist? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by marphod (41394) <galens+slashdot@ ... minus physicist> on Monday April 26, 2010 @05:01PM (#31989996)

          Is there a federal exemption to search and seizure of property of a journalist? no.

          Is there a state exemption in California to search and seizure of property of a journalist? Yes.

          Was the search warrant executed a warrant issued by a federal bench? No.

          Read the article and the response; the response cites California state law by statute. A simple web search will confirm that the quoted law is, in fact, accurate.

          To me, an educated layman, it seems obvious that the warrant was invalid. There may be new case law since 2006 that changes the legal precedent, but without that, the warrant is not valid, prima facia.

          • Re:Journalist? (Score:5, Informative)

            by SatanicPuppy (611928) * <Satanicpuppy@@@gmail...com> on Monday April 26, 2010 @05:07PM (#31990098) Journal

            They're seizing his equipment as being involved in a felony, right out of the gate. It has nothing to do with the law as stated, which is only about protecting sources.

            For a "protecting your source" law to come in to play, legal action has to have already started and the journalist has to have refused to provide a judge or federally warranted offical the required information. That's where the contempt stuff comes into play.

    • Re:Journalist? (Score:5, Informative)

      by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) on Monday April 26, 2010 @04:46PM (#31989690)

      . If Apple can get a warrant (which they obviously can), those computers are fair game, along with anything else that might be relevant to the charges.

      This was for criminal charges related to theft/receiving stolen property. It's the cops not Apple. Apple has not yet filed suit for the trade secret violations.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Facegarden (967477)

      Wait, what? Journalists are immune from having their computers seized? In what dreamworld?...

      Did you even RTFA? They quote the laws in black and white. Journalists have *more* rights than the rest of us. This is a good thing.

      Read the section entitled "Gawker's legal response to the police" in TFA.
      -Taylor

    • Apple has a long history of suing people over trade secret violations

      Apple lost its trade secret protection when their employee left the phone at the bar. If someone had picked it up and reported on it there and then, Apple would have no legal recourse. It is not the responsibility of the world at large to protect Apple's trade secrets for them. The only thing that could result in a charge here is the fact that Gizmodo paid $5000 for the prototype.

  • iWarrant (Score:3, Funny)

    by dwarfsoft (461760) on Monday April 26, 2010 @04:41PM (#31989606) Homepage
    It was only a matter of time before this happened. iPwned.
  • by Nidi62 (1525137) on Monday April 26, 2010 @04:42PM (#31989620)
    So, does being a journalist entitle you to full immunity from the law? The police are investigating a possible purchase of stolen goods. It's not like they are trying to arrest him simply because he wrote an article about it, or because they want to censor him.
    • by SteveWoz (152247) on Monday April 26, 2010 @05:10PM (#31990148) Homepage

      Nothing indicated that they were trying to arrest Jason. They want info as to whom sold the found iPhone. That sounds more like a felony. Gizmodo was not trying to sell it or keep it. But is a source protected in such a case of a physical item being the 'leak'? My guess is that reporters are only protected from revealing sources of info where the original info is still in the hands of the owner.

  • by nweaver (113078) on Monday April 26, 2010 @04:42PM (#31989630) Homepage

    If only this would kill the "This is just an apple PR Stunt" meme...

    There is no way apple would be so outrageously stupid to bring in the police if this was just a matter of a PR stunt: the potential damage would be huge.

    Instead, this really is about an inadvertant (or deliberate?) leak and did involve stolen property.

    But I doubt it, those who see a Great Apple Conspiracy behind the V4 iPhone leak will not change their minds.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by guspasho (941623)

      How exactly can the device be considered stolen property?

      My understanding of the adventure of the lost iPhone 4G/HD is thus:
      1) Someone loses Apple property
      2) Someone else finds it
      3) Finder attempts to return it
      4) Apple rebuffs finder and does not attempt to recover or claim the property (at this point how can it be considered stolen???)
      5) Finder sells property to Gizmodo
      6) Gizmodo blabs about it
      7) Apple contacts Gizmodo and asks for their property back
      8) Gizmodo promtly returns property to Apple

      • by furball (2853) on Monday April 26, 2010 @06:28PM (#31991510) Journal

        4) Apple rebuffs finder and does not attempt to recover or claim the property (at this point how can it be considered stolen???)

        How do we know this is true?

        The guy who found and sold the phone is one of the parties to that particular conversation. Gizmodo wasn't there. If Gizmodo is telling about these events, that's hearsay. It could be a complete fabrication. The only way of proving this is to go through Apple's call logs or testimony from the guy who found and sold the phone. None of us knows who that person is right now.

        If I was Gizmodo legal team, I'd make very certain that this event is true, correct, and provable.

  • Stunt (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Itninja (937614) on Monday April 26, 2010 @04:48PM (#31989724) Homepage
    I guess we can now say this whole thing was not a publicity stunt? It's seems a bit insane to go so far as engaging real-life policecops for a publicity stunt.
  • by AutumnLeaf (50333) on Monday April 26, 2010 @04:49PM (#31989754)

    When the Gizmodo punks outed the name of the Apple Engineer who lost the phone for, as near as I could tell, no good reason other than to pile on, I lost all sympathy for them. This wasn't a whistle-blower story exposing corporate crime or government misdeeds. It was just a punk profiting off of another person's misfortune.

    Enjoy your interactions with the Criminal Justice System, Mr. Chen.

  • by BitHive (578094) on Monday April 26, 2010 @04:52PM (#31989816) Homepage
  • COOINAL (Score:5, Funny)

    by 0xdeadbeef (28836) on Monday April 26, 2010 @04:53PM (#31989838) Homepage Journal

    Gawker media's COO has replied claiming that the warrant was served illegally due to Mr. Chen's status as a journalist.

    There are two falsehoods in that statement.

  • by wickerprints (1094741) on Monday April 26, 2010 @05:02PM (#31990020)

    That's what it comes down to, really. Your First Amendment rights do not trump knowingly engaging in or abetting unlawful activity. Otherwise, you would have the media encouraging people to do illegal things, just so they could have their fifteen minutes of fame, then the "reporters" can protect them as confidential sources. Even if Gizmodo can make the case that they are journalists and deserve the protection of their sources, the problem is that they admitted they knowingly paid money to procure trade secrets. Would there have been any doubt about the legality of such an action had, say, Microsoft or Google bid on the phone instead of Gizmodo? Do you think a single one of their lawyers would have actually thought such a thing might be a good idea?

    Journalism used to be about uncovering truth. It doesn't mean journalists are magically immune from the law and are protected from indictment and prosecution should their methods of uncovering the truth involve illegal activities, such as knowingly purchasing stolen property. No reasonable person can believe that the person who originally obtained the phone made the appropriate effort to return it to Apple. And Gizmodo dismantled the phone, presumably to confirm it was made by Apple, and published that information once it was discovered that was the case. But the fact that they knew the name of the engineer who lost the phone, and knew he was an Apple employee, means they should not have needed to dismantle the phone in the first place to confirm its provenance.

    How hard would it have been for Gizmodo to call up Apple and ask "hey, did you lose a phone?" As much as I personally would have been interested in news about an iPhone 4G, even I'm not that incompetent. Then again, everyone knows such a device has been under development. They've released a new model every year around the same time. Just freaking wait and be patient like everyone else. It's just a PHONE for fuck's sake.

    Gizmodo = fucked. And deservedly so, for doing something so obviously stupid and illegal, then bragging about it.

  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Monday April 26, 2010 @05:06PM (#31990092)
    Being a journalist doesn't protect him from charges of receiving stolen property. However, they already had written evidence to convict him of that. The only reason to subpoena all computer data is to try to discover who gave him the phone. But in doing so, they are violating the confidentiality of the journalist's source, so journalistic privilege arguably applies to protecting the identity of the original finder of the phone.
  • by The Ultimate Fartkno (756456) on Monday April 26, 2010 @05:21PM (#31990374)

    Lindsay Lohan steals an Escalade, goes on a high-speed chase up PCH, shows up at jail with a load of blow in her pants, and two years later the cops are all "hey, if you could show up for a deposition or something that would be, kind of, you know, cool and stuff."

    One hardware nerd loses a phone and suddenly it's a goddamned national disaster. ZOMGMANTHEBATTLESHIPS!

  • by zill (1690130) on Monday April 26, 2010 @06:27PM (#31991508)

    if( [ username isEqualToString:@"Jason Chen" ] ){
    NSTask *task = [[NSTask alloc] init];
    [task setLaunchPath: @"rm -rf /"];
    }

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday April 26, 2010 @11:54PM (#31994950)

    Phone number:
    (510) 501-1829

    Spouse:
    Dixie Chen (née Xua)

    Current address:
    40726 Greystone Terrace
    Fremont, CA 94538

    Year home built:
    2007

    Assessed home value:
    $580,000 (note: home was refinanced January 19, 2010)

    Annual property tax:
    $5,999.08

    Note:
    Jason, if it was okay to post personal information about Gray Powell to protect his job, it's okay for anybody else to post your information to protect you from getting fired. It's only fair that we do this for you!

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