Police Seize Gizmodo Editor’s Computer in iPhone Leak Investigation

| News

Gizmodo Editor Jason Chen found himself short a few computers after police confiscated several pieces of equipment from his residence Friday night. The computers, along with hard drives, an iPad and iPhone, were taken as part of an investigation into whether or not a crime was committed when the tech blog Web site took possession of a potentially stolen iPhone prototype.

The iPhone prototype was allegedly found in a bar and then later sold to Gizmodo. The site eventually posted photos and video of the device proclaiming it the next generation iPhone. Apple’s legal department contacted Gizmodo demanding the return of the device.

Gaby Darbyshire, COO for Gawker Media, Gizmodo’s parent company, claimed the search warrant was invalid because “search warrants may not be validly issued to confiscate the property of a journalist.” That didn’t, however, stop law enforcement officials from confiscating the electronics they were interested in.

Issuing and executing a search warrant doesn’t necessarily mean Mr. Chen has broken any laws, and in the United States, suspects and potential suspects in crimes are presumed innocent until proven guilty in court. Base on the fact that law enforcement officials were able to obtain a warrant, however, there’s a good chance investigators think that Mr. Chen may have had evidence related to Gizmodo’s involvement in obtaining the iPhone prototype, and that a crime may have occurred.

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Comments

geoduck

search warrants may not be validly issued to confiscate the property of a journalist.

Somehow I think I missed that when I was in school. Is there a ShieldLaw in that state?

ilikeimac

The laws cited by the COO seem to say that a warrant can’t be used to learn the source of a journalist’s *information* but I wonder if it can be used to learn the source of *stolen property*.

Jeff Gamet

Somehow I think I missed that when I was in school. Is there a ShieldLaw in that state?

I’m betting the law applies to journalists that are protecting their sources, but doesn’t apply when police think a journalist is potentially involved in a crime. I’m not a lawyer, so take my comments with an appropriate grain of salt.

ilikeimac

And once again Gizmodo holds on to juicy information like this till Monday to get more page hits.

Bosco (Brad Hutchings)

Nope, but it means that the ACLU, the EFF, and every other First Amendment group will be fully engaged. This is really beyond belief. I guess the way things are now is if you come into knowledge or possession of secret Apple information, you are NDA’d under threat of having your house trashed. At least the thugs didn’t kill his pets.

Just when I hoped Apple might show some class and humility in losing one that they lost, they fail to surprise me. They truly suck.

jfbiii

Yes, Apple, the aggrieved party (aka, “victim”) truly sucks for complaining to law enforcement that someone bought their stolen property from someone who stole it and took it apart and published everything they could about the property for their own profit. You know who else truly sucks? Rape victims. The nerve. It’s just penis. Suck it up and act classy.

Tiger

Ah, the state of journalism.

Gizmodo pays for what is being considered stolen property, has an editor’s residence raided to recover pertinent communications

The Wall Street Journal flubs a story about the iPad being blocked by 3 universities, even though they have completely dispelled the story as incorrect (http://www.macobserver.com/tmo/article/no_ipad_ban_at_cornell_george_washington_or_princeton/)

What are we coming to? I’m sure my graduate journalism professor is rolling in his grave over these two.

Or not. He’d actually be laughing at the stupidity. He had a great sense of humor.

Phil

Just when I hoped Apple might show some class and humility in losing one that they lost, they fail to surprise me. They truly suck.

Yeah, because Apple certainly shouldn’t take action against someone who did something illegal against them! Give me a break. Illegal is illegal I don’t care how small or big you are. The “finder” knew it was not theirs, and knew it was worth something (they put a $5000 price tag on it), and Gizmodo payed $5000, so they knew what it was, and that it wasn’t the finders to sell. And obviously the DA and a judge thought there was a crime because a warrant was issued.

As far as protecting the journalist - maybe that is why they took his business cards - they list him as a Pro Blogger - is that a journalist?

Dave Hamilton

It’s worth noting that there’s something here called an “in rem proceeding.” Essentially what that means is a legal action can be brought against a piece of equipment even if no such action is brought against the *people* involved. That may allow the prosecution to circumvent the journalist protection here and yet still make life hell for people. My ... understanding of these “in rem” proceedings is that they are often used as a tactic to do just that.

Jeff Gamet

It?s worth noting that there?s something here called an ?in rem proceeding.? Essentially what that means is a legal action can be brought against a piece of equipment even if no such action is brought against the *people* involved.

Another important point to note is that the court doesn’t need Apple’s permission or cooperation to pursue a criminal case against Gawker, Gizmodo or its employees. Gizmodo’s actions without a complaint from Apple may have been enough to spark the investigation. My guess is that the police and District Attorney’s office are looking at what they see as selling and buying stolen property, which they’ll argue isn’t bound by any journalist protection.

Again, don’t forget that I’m not an attorney, nor do I play one on TV.

daemon

It seems like harasment. What exactly is the point of serving a search warrant on Gizmodo or it’s employees?

Dr. Fyzziks

Just when I hoped Apple might show some class and humility in losing one that they lost, they fail to surprise me. They truly suck.

Apple isn’t doing anything here - this is not a civil suit where Apple is going after the perpetrators. This is a criminal investigation by the police, which is the result of a decision made by the San Mateo district attorney. The DA apparently believes that a crime has been committed and is following up on it.

Don’t get the criminal and civil law processes mixed up here.

Dr. Fyzziks

It seems like harasment. What exactly is the point of serving a search warrant on Gizmodo or it?s employees?

That’s an easy one. The DA is investigating the possibility that the iPhone was stolen. Gizmodo identified the Apple engineer that “lost” it, but hasn’t identified the individual that found the phone and sold it to them. So, the investigation starts with the Gizmodo employee responsible for purchasing the phone and writing up the article.

Just because a warrant was issued against Gizmodo doesn’t necessarily mean that’s who the police are after.

(although, I don’t buy Gizmodo’s explanation that they didn’t know whether the phone was stolen or not - it’s a prototype Apple phone, the person who sold it didn’t have the right to do so, etc.)

Lancashire-Witch

Ah, the state of journalism.

Maybe the profession set off down the wrong track with Gonzo.

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