Court Begins Searching Gizmodo Computers in iPhone Theft Investigation

Computers police confiscated from Gizmodo editor Jason Chen are finally going under the microscope as part of a criminal investigation into how the technology blog got ahold of a prototype iPhone. Gizmodo purchased the iPhone from Brian Hogan who claimed he found the prototype in a California bar.

The search of Mr. Chen’s computers will be conducted by a court appointed special master who will gather only information that relates to the investigation, according to CNET. Once the search is completed, the collected evidence will be turned over to the judge overseeing the case and then shown to the defense for potential objections.

After attorneys for Mr. Chen review the evidence, the judge will decide what the prosecution can see.

Police confiscated several computers, along with hard drives, an iPad and iPhone, from Mr. Chen’s home in late April as part of an investigation the theft of Apple’s iPhone prototype. Authorities held off on searching the gear for evidence until now while the debate as to whether or not journalists are protected from search warrants in relation to criminal investigations was hashed out.

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.

The special master’s investigation may take a few months, after which the judge overseeing the case will review the findings. No one has been charged with a crime related to the investigation so far.