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Judge Orders Gizmodo Search Warrant Unsealed 526

Posted by Soulskill
from the plot-thickens dept.
gyrogeerloose writes "The same judge who issued the warrant to search Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's apartment has now ordered it unsealed, ruling against the San Mateo County district attorney's office which had argued that unsealing the documents may compromise the investigation." You can read the entire affidavit here (PDF). It has a detailed description of the police investigation that led to the seizure of Chen's computers. It turns out Steve Jobs personally requested that the phone be returned, prompting Gizmodo's Brian Lam to try negotiating for a public acknowledgment that the phone was real. Apple was tipped off to the man who found/stole the prototype by his roommate.
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Judge Orders Gizmodo Search Warrant Unsealed

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  • Roommates (Score:5, Funny)

    by Elgonn (921934) on Friday May 14, 2010 @05:22PM (#32214026)
    Before you let your roommates know you've possibly committed a felony make sure they won't turn you in.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      See, he asked the hypothetical "Would you help me bury a body" the week before and his room mate told him he would. So he thought he was in the clear.

      He didn't know his room mate was a closet Apple Fanatic, and any chance to talk to Jobs and take him out to dinner would be worth it. ... Okay I added the dinner part.

    • Re:Roommates (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Rogerborg (306625) on Friday May 14, 2010 @05:28PM (#32214092) Homepage
      I prefer not to live with people who have no problem with "finding" other peoples' property. You have to invest in big locks.
    • by Locke2005 (849178)
      Remember: Friends help you move. True friends help you move bodies!
    • A phone? Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 14, 2010 @06:48PM (#32215024)

      That seems like a lot of police work, DA work, etc for a piece of shit phone. People will cry about IP and lost sales. Bull shit. Steve Jobs says people will stop buying iPhones because they now know a new one is in development? Are you fucking kidding me Steve? You guys release a new model every fucking year. Only a dipshit retard wouldn't know that July is new iPhone month.

      My neighbor beats her daughter and locks her in a closet and we call the Police, children's services, and they blow us the fuck off. To busy with real crimes like a missing iPhone.

      Sad. Get a fucking grip people.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        That seems like a lot of police work, DA work, etc for a piece of shit phone. People will cry about IP and lost sales. Bull shit. Steve Jobs says people will stop buying iPhones because they now know a new one is in development? Are you fucking kidding me Steve? You guys release a new model every fucking year. Only a dipshit retard wouldn't know that July is new iPhone month.

        It's not just Apple And Steve being butt hurt about the stole/found phone. It's about the law enforcement groups being butt hurt too

    • Re:Roommates (Score:5, Informative)

      by HermMunster (972336) on Friday May 14, 2010 @09:55PM (#32216528)

      No felony occurred until a jury says one has. Reading the affidavit gave me pause in how the detective intentionally exaggerated the circumstances to make it look as if a conspiracy took place.

      Birth dates, residences, and drivers licenses were disclosed making at least 3 people susceptible to identity theft.

  • wow (Score:2, Offtopic)

    by geekoid (135745)

    a lot of assumption in that document.

    Seriously, they said it was invaluable? so if the SEC came down on your ass you couldn't get a number?
    Please.

    Ansd what's up with this:
    "I therefor pray that a search warrant be issued so the items..."

    Pray?

    • Seriously, they said it was invaluable? so if the SEC came down on your ass you couldn't get a number?
      Please.

      Please tell how you would go about putting a value on a prototype.

      • by Manfre (631065)

        Manufacturing cost is a good place to start. It's not like this is a one of kind prototype that took years to make and there are no schematics to build a replacement. Like most device companies, they sent an NDA and schematics to a manufacturer in china. I wouldn't be surprised if they had hundreds of these prototypes passed out for QA purposes.

      • Re:wow (Score:5, Insightful)

        by gnasher719 (869701) on Friday May 14, 2010 @05:56PM (#32214448)

        Please tell how you would go about putting a value on a prototype.

        Well, Gizmodo paid $8500 for a _stolen_ prototype, opening them up for all kinds of risks. How much would Apple have received if they had started an auction for one iPhone prototype to the highest bidder? There were offers from other outfits for $10,000 (which were retracted when these guys figured out the phone was stolen). So obviously Apple had no intention to sell that prototype, but they could easily have sold it for say $20,000 to $50,000.

        Or lets say Apple has a big event when the next iPhone is released, and one lucky journalist in the audience wins a real iPhone prototype (no trade secret anymore because it is the event of the actual release, just the rarity). You could probably sell that prototype for a few thousand.

        • Re:wow (Score:5, Insightful)

          by MBCook (132727) <foobarsoft@foobarsoft.com> on Friday May 14, 2010 @06:44PM (#32214996) Homepage

          How much was it worth to Apple's competitors (such as RIM, Samsung, Nokia, etc.) to find out that Apple's next phone had a front facing camera? That it had a flash? Getting an extra 2 or 3 months head start on that information could be very important. It could be the difference between their next models coming out with the same features, or having to wait an extra product cycle to match Apple's new features.

          And that difference, those phone sales, could easily run into the millions.

          It's one thing with an analyst says "I think Apple will do X". It's quite different when someone finds an Apple device that does X just two to three months before it will be released (based on Apple's summer iPhone release pattern).

    • Re:wow (Score:5, Informative)

      by Reverberant (303566) on Friday May 14, 2010 @05:40PM (#32214222) Homepage

      Ansd what's up with this: "I therefor pray that a search warrant be issued so the items..."

      Pray?

      It's a term of art [google.com] in the legal field.

    • by Svartalf (2997)

      That's a legal term, actually. It figures a lot in pleadings.

      A request attached to the end of a pleading asking for specific damages or relief to which the plaintiff believes he is entitled.

    • Seriously, they said it was invaluable?

      That's just credit card commercial things that you might encounter in a bar in San Mateo hype:

      A good beer? $5

      A plate of bar finger food? $10

      A super secret prototype Apple Plan 9G iPhone? Priceless

  • by AdmiralXyz (1378985) on Friday May 14, 2010 @05:35PM (#32214176)

    It turns out Steve Jobs personally requested that the phone be returned, prompting Gizmodo's Brian Lam to try negotiating for a public acknowledgment that the phone was real.

    Let me make sure I understand this: these guys were in possession of stolen property, and they tried to negotiate conditions for its return? Gizmodo, you run a decent gadget blog, but Jesus Christ you need better lawyers. You are about to be one-two punched by the law, and you have no one to blame but yourselves.

    • At least they ultimately got what they wanted, in a way.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      >> Gizmodo, you run a decent gadget blog

      HA HA HA

      HA HA HA

      HA HA HA
  • Pretty .. (Score:2, Insightful)

    Gizmodo dropped a bombshell on the gadget world April 19 with a detailed look at the iPhone prototype, which an Apple employee named Robert “Gray” Powell had lost at a bar.

    Does anyone else think this whole thing is pretty fucking ridiculous for a lost prototype by a careless worker? A CELL PHONE prototype - not plans for a nuke or plans for a sub or for a stealth fighter - a stupid fucking cell phone.

    A young man is in a shit load of legal problems because the cops think A STUPID FUCKING CELL PHONE is important. This STUPID FUCKING CELL PHONE is more important than the crimes going on in their area. If I were a victim of a violent crime in that area, I'd be throwing bags of do

    • Re:Pretty .. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by BasilBrush (643681) on Friday May 14, 2010 @05:41PM (#32214242)

      A young man is in a shit load of legal problems because the cops think A STUPID FUCKING CELL PHONE is important. This STUPID FUCKING CELL PHONE is more important than the crimes going on in their area.

      Whilst you and your hoodie friends might not realise it, stealing a cell phone *is* a crime.

      • Re:Pretty .. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by pclminion (145572) on Friday May 14, 2010 @05:51PM (#32214388)

        Whilst you and your hoodie friends might not realise it, stealing a cell phone *is* a crime.

        A crime that deserves worldwide news coverage that goes on for weeks and weeks? Please.

        Next week, maybe we'll see 5,000 stories on Google news about how somebody stole a lawnmower.

        • by FaasNat (522755)

          Next week, maybe we'll see 5,000 stories on Google news about how somebody stole a lawnmower.

          Is it a prototype?

        • A crime that deserves worldwide news coverage that goes on for weeks and weeks? Please.

          The worldwide news outlets will cover whatever it is that they think that people want to hear about. What they do or don't do is irrelevant to whether or not the police should have taken action to investigate this crime.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          Next week, maybe we'll see 5,000 stories on Google news about how somebody stole a lawnmower.

          If it was the highly anticipated successor to John Deere's line of lawnmowers that has generated over 10 billion in income, yes you would see 5,000 stories on Google News about it.

          A crime that deserves worldwide news coverage that goes on for weeks and weeks? Please.

          That's an interesting thing for somebody who commented in the middle of the comments section of one of these 5,000 news stories to say. Not newsworthy at all, right?

    • Re:Pretty .. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by mjwalshe (1680392) on Friday May 14, 2010 @05:42PM (#32214262)
      so its trade secret and prototypes of new tech do have a considerable value hers a clue SV's major industry is tech and there are entities that go in for industrial espionarge.
    • Re:Pretty .. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by UnknowingFool (672806) on Friday May 14, 2010 @05:48PM (#32214336)

      Do you know how much the cell phone prototype was worth? If you think that the cost of parts was a few hundred dollars, you'd be wrong. Prototypes like this phone might have thousands of dollars worth of parts. Since it was a prototype, parts of the phone had to be custom made and were not mass-produced. Apple probably only made a dozen or so prototype chips. That alone raises the nominal value of the cell phone.

      Then there's the trade secrets aspect. Competitors knowing what features are present in the phone can duplicate quickly them reducing their catchup time from a few months to no time. Also Apple has a point: People knowing a new model is about to be released may not purchase a current model which means loss of sales to Apple.

    • by egburr (141740)

      Just think what would have happened if it had been "plans for a nuke or plans for a sub or for a stealth fighter". The guy probably would have disappeared and we probably never would have heard about it even.

      Personally, I'd rather have the legal problems. But then, I hopefully wouldn't be stupid enough to get to that point.

    • The cops don't think is important at all. They are ordered to, by people who owe their elections to donations by big business and when you make a low salary it is not wise to question every single order.

      Not a single beat officer goes around in the morning thinking: "Geez, what am I going to do today, arrest a rapist or collect a mislaid prototype phone for Jobs".

      And if you really don't like this abuse of privilege by Jobs, then don't buy any Apple products. Not even the really shiny ones.

      Frankly I amazed

    • Re:Pretty .. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by abigsmurf (919188) on Friday May 14, 2010 @05:54PM (#32214418)
      I disagree. I think it's very important that the baseline of what it acceptable, ethical journalism is made clear.

      Today it's a prototype phone left on a barstool, sold to a tech blog, tommorrow it's Lindsay Lohan's pickpocketed Cellphone sold to TMZ so they can rifle through her text messages and voicemail.

      Likewise the concept of 'finders keepers' needs to be constantly debunked as theivery. (Car analogy alert). If someone finds my car keys, I don't want them to drive it around for a week before returning it to me (after I go to a fair amount of effort to track it down)
    • by dangitman (862676)
      So, it shouldn't be a priority for the police to investigate the crime of theft? Rule of law should be suspended just because it's a "stupid fucking" phone?
    • Does anyone else think this whole thing is pretty fucking ridiculous for a lost prototype by a careless worker? A CELL PHONE prototype - not plans for a nuke or plans for a sub or for a stealth fighter - a stupid fucking cell phone. ...

      Really, does anyone else think this is an idiotic waste of police and tax payer money to "protect" the property rights of some corporation?

      They've sold over thirty million iPhones and it's still hugely popular. The success of that product helps keep roofs over many Californian heads and has accounted for a significant amount of badly needed tax income. I agree that this specific case is waste of taxpayer money, but your argument that it isn't a stealth bomber is a sign that you really understand what any of this is about. It isn't a 'STUPID FUCKING CELL PHONE' it's an entire product line.

    • by tobiah (308208)

      Exactly, it's not some secret classified military weapon, which is how it is being treated. It's a phone, slightly improved over a model that millions use, lose and break all the time. The police should have treated like every other report of a lost phone.

  • The guy who stole/found the phone doesn't look too good from this report, but remember when Gizmodo was talking to him they didn't have Apple's side, or a full police report. They believed the guy tried to return it to Apple. If he didn't, that's on him, not Gizmodo. In that sense I think the receiving stolen property charge is bogus, they didn't know it was stolen, and indeed, even based on what the guy did I'm finding hard to believe it was stolen. Should he have made a better effort to return it to t

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by BasilBrush (643681)

      So, the guy who found it, probably not guilty of theft in my mind, but probably guilty of not trying to return the property, which I'm sure is a crime somehow.

      The crime of theft in fact. So why is it not theft in your mind when its theft in law?

      That "Finders keepers" saying from childhood really stuck, didn't it? But it's no basis for adult morality. Not if you want to find your car in the street where you left it when you return.

    • by westlake (615356)

      The guy who stole/found the phone doesn't look too good from this report, but remember when Gizmodo was talking to him they didn't have Apple's side, or a full police report.

      From the WSJ:

      Hogan, 21, sold the lost iPhone to Gizmodo.com, which had offered him $10,000 for the prototype, and a "cash bonus" in July should Apple make "an official product announcement regarding the new iPhone," according to the document. Seller Of Lost Apple iPhone Prototype Turned In By Roommate [wsj.com]

      The one thing you must not do when

  • Priorities (Score:5, Informative)

    by Locke2005 (849178) on Friday May 14, 2010 @06:10PM (#32214612)
    I had my motor home broken into in Sunnyvale and my possessions stolen. I called the police. They told me "Here is your report number. You have insurance right?" I said "No, not for theft." "Well then, why are you calling us?" they replied. "I thought you might want to come out and investigate. They broke the lock, left their tool, probably left fingerprints everywhere..." "No, we don't do that", said the cop, and hung up.

    I guess the cops understand exactly who pays their salaries.
    • Re:Priorities (Score:5, Interesting)

      by cowscows (103644) on Friday May 14, 2010 @06:42PM (#32214972) Journal

      Just to counter your anecdote, my car's side window was smashed at work in New Orleans, a city renown for it's failure of a police department, and when I called the cops they had someone there in about 20 minutes. And when that cop say some decent fingerprints, they called out a crime lab guy who inspected even more. All this for a car break-in, where I'm not even sure what (if anything) was stolen.

      Sorry your local cops are so worthless that they make the NOPD look helpful. Maybe you should complain to your elected officials instead of /.

  • by jeko (179919) on Friday May 14, 2010 @06:15PM (#32214672)

    Reading the affidavit, the thing that disturbs me most is that Apple seems to have pet police detectives at their beck and call. The affidavit basically says "Apple wants to search this guy's place and take everything there, right down to any credit cards they find."

    We can't even get the cops to investigate half of the violent crimes reported, but we're willing to call in SWAT to keep Steve Jobs' "Oh, and one more thing" moment in tact?

    How about this? How about we let the police detectives focus on the mountain of unsolved violent crimes around San Francisco, and Steve, for your moment in the Sun, just hold up the phone and say, "Hey, look what we found in a bar!"

    It'll be a big laugh, and some bloody victim will thank you for it.

    • How about this? How about we let the police detectives focus on the mountain of unsolved violent crimes around San Francisco,

      They wouldn't anyway.

      Although they should do both.

  • by vrillusions (794844) on Friday May 14, 2010 @06:17PM (#32214694) Homepage

    (yes, I read the entire investigation part of the affidavit)

    According to Brian Hogan's room mate (pg 14) an "intoxicated male" gave him a phone believing it was his. Hogan remained at the bar "a little while longer" and no one claimed the phone.

    According to Powel (the employee who lost the phone) (pg 16) he states his last memory of the phone was placing it in his bag and then placing the bag by his feet.he was there till closing at 11:00 PM local time. He left when the restaurant started to close and he thinks the phone could not have remained in the restaurant more than 15 minutes.

    Brian's room mate called the police because the phone was synced to her computer and Hogan's and was afraid law enforcement could get the ip address and trace it back to her (pg 12). So she was calling to absolve herself from legal issues. Also when she was shown the phone it appeared apple may have already done a remote wipe of the phone.

    George Riley says (pg 12) that the phone was invaluable and that the $8500 (yes, supposedly he got $8500 total, no source on the other $2500 though) that Hogan got the phone was worth the price of the phone if not more.

    Brian Hogan and someone else (sorry, I'm getting tired of finding this in the pdf) knew the police were investigating and was in the process of destroying/hiding evidence. The police went to hogan's father's house and found Hogan with his girlfriend. He said that the other person had some of the evidence. Eventually they got a hold of him and he placed the other items in front of a church.

    Only other gem I found in there is a quote as stated by brian's room mate when she urged him not to sell the phone as it would ruin Robert Powel's image he told her "Sucks for him. He lost his phone. Shouldn't have lost his phone"

  • Wtf? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by adbge (1693228) on Friday May 14, 2010 @06:30PM (#32214830)
    I'm not sure why Apple apologists think it is the media's responsibility to protect Apple's trade secrets.

    It is not reasonable to expect other people to guard your secrets. Don't put them out into the open.

    Bringing litigation against Gawker Media for trade secret violations would be an abuse of the legal system and, I think, irresponsible. Apple would essentially be attempting to acquire compensation for misplacing their own device.
  • Thieves (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DeanFox (729620) * <[spam.myname] [at] [gmail.com]> on Friday May 14, 2010 @06:57PM (#32215086)

    Apple also told the police that the publication of Gizmodo's story was "immensely damaging" to the company, because consumers would stop buying current generation iPhones in anticipation of the upcoming product. Asked the value of the phone, Apple told the police "it was invaluable."

    As far as I'm concerned they're both thieves. But, that's just me.

    -[d]-

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