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The iPhone saga gets even more interesting...

It looks as though Gizmodo and Gawker Media has just landed themselves in hot water. Last week's scoop on the fourth generation iPhone brought the site massive page views and coverage on CNN, the Today Show, and even The View.

However, as we noted last last week, law enforcement in the Silicon Valley area are investigating the details surrounding how the iPhone was lost and Gizmodo's $5,000 transaction to retrieve said phone. Today, Gizmodo snuck in a tiny headline on its frontpage that shows that editor Jason Chen had a few visitors to his home on Friday night:

Last Friday night, California's Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team entered editor Jason Chen's home without him present, seizing four computers and two servers. They did so using a warrant by Judge of Superior Court of San Mateo. According to Gaby Darbyshire, COO of Gawker Media LLC, the search warrant to remove these computers was invalid under section 1524(g) of the California Penal Code.

According to Chen's account of the events, the police bashed down his door while he was out. By the time he arrived at home, the police had already been there for a few hours and were well into cataloging his electronic possessions. In total, the task force seized 19 items from Chen's home including his MacBook, a ThinkPad laptop, MediaSmart server, a few external hard drives, two USB thumb drives, digital cameras, and an iPod.

The Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team is looking for email communications, call records, contact lists, text messages, and any other material relating to the sale of the iPhone 4G.

While the fourth generation iPhone saga has been detailed here on DailyTech in a few articles, you can see Gizmodo's coverage here. The full subpoena along with Gizmodo's response can be seen here.

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RE: Apple harassing journalists
By walk2k on 4/26/2010 6:37:09 PM , Rating: -1
What do you call picking up something that doesn't belong to you, putting it in your pocket and walking out the door?

Oh that's right, we call that "STEALING".

As for Gizmondo, LOL yeah it's totally normal to pay $5000 for a PHONE gimmea break they knew something wasn't right here.

RE: Apple harassing journalists
By Bateluer on 4/26/2010 6:46:27 PM , Rating: 5
Apple has a history of harassing journalists and reporters. This is definitely excessive on the part of the police and Apple, and Gizmodo should sue for damages and violation of First Amendment Rights. They should also make sure they have a list of everything that was taken so they can ensure they it get it all back.

RE: Apple harassing journalists
By whiskerwill on 4/26/10, Rating: -1
RE: Apple harassing journalists
By Bateluer on 4/26/2010 8:35:19 PM , Rating: 5
1. Apple pushed the police, don't forget that. Local cops don't do a raid like that for a single piece of stolen property, otherwise local police departments would only be busting down doors looking for stolen property. Evidently you don't live in an urban area.

2. The Apple engineer left the prototype in a bar. Another individual brought it home, allegedly because he thought it was his. Since most iPhones look exactly the same, this is an easy thing to do, especially given that they were all likely inebriated. The individual did attempt to call Apple to return the phone, but didn't make it past the secretaries.

3. Every news outlet, respectable or otherwise, pays currency for leads sometimes. And by sometimes I mean daily. It may be a little dirty, but Gizmodo didn't do anything wrong. Now, if they'd attempted to sell the prototype to HTC, Palm, Google, etc, then there'd be an issue.

4. I'm not stupid enough to store pornographic content on my phone, nor do I leave it laying around in bars.

And yes, I do vote, regularly. Today, as a matter of fact, special election in my city.

RE: Apple harassing journalists
By alanore on 4/26/2010 9:05:09 PM , Rating: 5
RE: Apple harassing journalists
By Mitch101 on 4/26/2010 9:23:04 PM , Rating: 2
I think there is more to this story than Apple is saying and we all know that Apple likes to hide things. Im betting the guy who lost it in the bar is claiming it was stolen or filed it as stolen otherwise what are the police acting upon? Something had to be filed for the police to get a warrant and raid his home. I'm also betting they took the computers to confirm the story.

Either way Gizmodo has been a big supporter of Apple products and if Apple is in the wrong this could backfire on Apple badly. Look at the list of items taken most are apple products.

The kind of force here also lays credence to the Chinese worker who died over losing an iPhone.

Someone needs to probe Apple as apparently they are above the law.

RE: Apple harassing journalists
By jconan on 4/27/2010 11:36:59 PM , Rating: 2
But Apple will have hidden any records or deleted it alleging that Apple killed the worker. Apple will do the Pontius Pilot as they are above the law with their Messiah running the company. As they can do no wrong even if it was a mistake, wrong or unethical. Obviously Apple probably has lined the pockets of some agency with donations or coercion.

RE: Apple harassing journalists
By porkpie on 4/26/10, Rating: -1
RE: Apple harassing journalists
By Bateluer on 4/26/2010 9:40:33 PM , Rating: 3
[quote]You're leaping to conclusions. There's no evidence Apple did anything but report the crime.[/quote]

See the link above where its reported that Apple sites on the steering committee for high tech crime.

[quote]They did worse than that. They made all those trade secrets available to ALL those companies, not just one of them.[/quote]

Posting pictures, inside and out, most of which features have already been in competing phones for the past year, barely qualifies as a trade secret breach. If Apple's trade secrets are features that their competitors have been using for the past year, then they should just give up now because the gap isn't going to close.

RE: Apple harassing journalists
By porkpie on 4/26/2010 10:11:57 PM , Rating: 3
" its reported that Apple sites on the steering committee for high tech crime."

So? Are you seriously claiming this is proof of anything? God forbid you ever serve on a jury.

"most of which features have already been in competing phones for the past year, barely qualifies as a trade secret breach"

I don't know what your brain uses in place of logic, but if you kept the receipt, I suggest getting a refund. The "secret" part here is what Apple chose to put in or leave out of the latest iPhone. What their competitors are doing is irrelevant in this case.

You're also confusing a trade secret with patentable IP. In this case, the trade secrets are based more around marketing decisions for feature inclusion, "look and feel", etc -- rather than any new technology.

RE: Apple harassing journalists
By Bateluer on 4/26/2010 11:21:27 PM , Rating: 4
Ease up on the personal attacks, the discussion is about the conduct of the police, Apple, and Gizmodo.

What Apple chose to put into the new iPhone, that could be discerned from the pictures only, as the device was bricked remotely, are all features and aspects already present in their competitor's products. None of which would be patentable under cases of prior use. High res screen, forward facing camera, etc. These are not trade secrets, these are becoming standard features on a modern, high end smart phone.

Unfortunately, the only time I was called for jury duty, I was serving the US military out of state and was unable to fulfill the obligation.

RE: Apple harassing journalists
By robinthakur on 4/27/2010 12:08:09 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, but to be honest here the big reveal of any Apple product is which features are included in the *Apple* product, and how that is assisted by the software, the usability etc. What competitors may or may not have tried before is pretty irrelevent. The average iPhone buyer does not care that HTC/Nokia have had forward facing cameras for years or that the HTC Touch HD has a higher resolution screen, they want what's in the Apple product due to the usability and attention to detail of the interface. Sad but true. This is what keeps the internet buzzing for months on end leading up to a product launch. Some would argue that Gizmodo have done an excellent job at promoting Apple but I would dispute this, because now what is Steve jobs going to present? Where's the buzz? Finding out what the final case will look like? This will probably cost Apple sales because many aspects of the iPhone are marketed as if no other competition exists.

The point is that this was a prototype, the decent thing for Gizmodo to do would have been to give it straight back to Apple and think of the industry which pays their bills. They are in a symbiotic relationship with companies like Apple, they write about the tech that Apple produces, why bite the hand that feeds you? Smacks of arrogance to me...oh and i'm sure the police wouldn't have needed much more reason to Raid Chen's home than read Gizmodo where its all plainly stated that they paid $5000 to obtain goods which did not belong to them of dunbious provenance. How could they not investigate?

RE: Apple harassing journalists
By tmouse on 4/27/2010 10:19:17 AM , Rating: 5
There is no crime for anyone who is not under a NDA to tell any "trade secrets" they come across, as long as they themselves were not actively involved in the stealing of the trade secrets. They can say they purchased something that was purported to be a prototype that was not acknowledged by Apple as actually being one at that time. SO the guy goes to them and says I have a apple prototype phone, they ask if to his knowledge it is stolen, he says no he found it and called Apple (presumably looking for a reward) and no one got back to him. They buy it to get access to it to see if it a true prototype or bull (they take a risk it is a phony but they will still get more than their money back on a speculating story). The police will have to prove they had knowledge it was stolen beyond a reasonable doubt. If you bug a room and get trade secrets it illegal. If you find a stack of papers in a public bathroom it's not illegal unless you use the information for stock manipulation, extortion or your under a NDA for that secret. I still do not buy the idea that anyone would go out and get drunk enough to forget a highly valuable prototype when they work for a company as litigiously anal as Apple. Apple will also be part of this probe, they will have to document the exact time they were notified of its loss as well as all of their steps to retrieve this device (they better have logs of ALL of the places this guy went and proof the contacted them and asked for a lost phone). If their implying it was "lifted" from the guy they better have filed a police report the next day (he HAD to have noticed it was missing by the next morning if not the same night)

RE: Apple harassing journalists
By Mitch101 on 4/26/2010 9:50:29 PM , Rating: 5
Lost <> Stolen

Jason Chen bought a lost phone that Apple support identified to the original finder as a chinese knockoff.

What was such an important phone doing in a bar/public place?

RE: Apple harassing journalists
By Bateluer on 4/26/2010 11:23:39 PM , Rating: 3
Wait, Apple support initially ID'd the phone as a Chinese knock off? That pretty much vindicates Gizmodo, makes the police look foolish, and makes Apple look like they threw a childish temper tantrum.

It was my understanding that the prototype was being tested in a 'live' environment, a good practice for any company making consumer electronics.

RE: Apple harassing journalists
By porkpie on 4/26/10, Rating: -1
RE: Apple harassing journalists
By OCedHrt on 4/27/2010 12:27:37 AM , Rating: 5
a) Yes true, but guilty until proven innocent?
b) I remember it was several calls and speaking with higher tier support as well.
c) Gizmodo may or may not have known it was a Chinese knockoff. They did not confirm anything until it was dismantled, since the phone was not operable!

RE: Apple harassing journalists
By abo75 on 4/27/2010 5:01:05 AM , Rating: 2
This isn't a $200 phone. It's a unique prototype, capable of costing the company hundreds of thousands, if not millions in damages.

Do you mean this could cost Apple millions in damages? The only way this episode will cost Apple is in lost sales of the 3GS. I've been holding off getting a new iPhone in anticipation of the 4G long before the images were released, now that I've seen it, I can't wait for it to be available.

RE: Apple harassing journalists
By robinthakur on 4/27/2010 11:54:58 AM , Rating: 2
OK, this piece of technology is unreleased and Gizmodo have not only plastered it all over the Internet but have also taken it apart putting Apple at risk of industrial espionage, probably pissing them off royallly and guaranteed that they won't be getting any exclusives from Cupertino anytime soon (Kind of crucial when you are a consumer electronics site) They also paid $5000 to get possession of this phone, acquired by dubious means (can his story about trying to return it to Apple be corroborated by Apple? Wouldn't you know if the iPhone you had picked up wasn't your own or ccheck it before you left the bar? I certainly would) presumably knowing that the device did not belong to the person selling it, nor did they attempt to return it or hand it in to the police. This is clearly wrong, its not a "lead", its property that DID NOT BELONG TO THEM which they paid for.

All of the above is bad, but the total douche move of Gizmodo was to name the employee that lost it. Won't be reading their site again, who on earth does Fatso think he is?

RE: Apple harassing journalists
By MartyLK on 4/27/2010 12:10:25 AM , Rating: 1
Thank you! I agree with you 100% and you saved me the trouble of saying that.

RE: Apple harassing journalists
By Ristogod on 4/27/2010 9:49:31 AM , Rating: 2
Wow, people like you make me sad I live in a Democracy.

You don't live in a Democracy. You live in a democratic REPUBLIC. And in a republic, the powers of the government are limited to protect the people.

Furthermore, a democracy is mob rule. So if the majority of the people vote to take the minority's homes or possessions away, nothing can prevent that in a democracy. In a republic no democratic vote could allow that to happen.

Also on your points.

1. You are idiotic or naive to think that Apple didn't coerce the police into taking action.

2. There is no law stating that one must interpret the need to and keep a secret. If you need something kept secret, they by god you'd better keep it secret.

Now if Apple could prove by Gizmodo's actions that they causes damages, then that's different. But you and I both know that this will not cause any damages, but rather will only add publicity and sell more overpriced phones to gullible consumers.

3. It's not a conspiracy. If someone got a hold of my phone because I LOST it, and they made my information public, then it's no one's fault but my own. Surely I can get upset about it, because there is a moral issue involved, but I can't expect others to keep safe and secret what I'm not capable of keeping safe and secret myself.

RE: Apple harassing journalists
By AnnihilatorX on 4/26/2010 6:50:16 PM , Rating: 1
It's called finder's keepers

It's perfectly legal to pick up something and put it in your pocket provided you tried locating the owner in the vicinity, and after so take it to police station. If a legitimate owner does not claim the item for so many days, the item will be returned to the finder.

At least that's the UK law. Don't know about the finder law in US.

RE: Apple harassing journalists
By bwave on 4/26/2010 7:22:14 PM , Rating: 3
In the US (at least based on my experience in Maryland) you are required to turn item into law enforcement, then they hold the item for 30 days. After 30 days, they AUCTION the item off, and keep all proceeds for themselves. You don't get a finders fee or anything.

(had a friend watch a $750 peice of equipment fall off a work truck, nearly hitting his truck. He got out and put on his truck to get it out of the roadway, and drove it immediately to Sheriff's office, along with a description of the truck and the first 3 letters of the Maryland license plate. He left his name and address, when he called 2 weeks later to check if the guy had picked it up. (mostly for curiosity sake hoping the guy had) he was told that was not public information. He was told he was welcome to come bid on it during the next scheduled public auction should the guy have not claimed by then. Item sold for ~$400

RE: Apple harassing journalists
By Solandri on 4/27/2010 3:04:38 PM , Rating: 2
California law requires you to make an earnest attempt to find the rightful owner, or return it where you found it (in this case, the bar, presumably so the bar could try to return it to the owner). Failing that, you're supposed to turn it in to the police. If nobody files a lost item report to claim the phone, after a certain amount of time, it becomes yours and you can pick it up from the police. Then you can sell it to Gizmodo for $5000.

Since the phone wasn't turned in to the police, it didn't belong to the person who sold it and he had no right to sell it. The moment he sold it, it became stolen property (as in, he's claiming he owns it so he can sell it, when he doesn't really own it). Otherwise you could do silly things like claim you "found" a shiny new Mercedes which was "lost" in a parking lot, and when you couldn't find the owner you sold it to the friendly neighborhood chop shop.

RE: Apple harassing journalists
By alanore on 4/26/2010 7:43:10 PM , Rating: 2
Finder's keepers law is only applicable to unowned or abandoned items. I'm not sure if this would count as unowned/abandoned as apple originally didn't want it back (allegedly), but then they did.

Either way finder's keepers is only a quasi-law.

RE: Apple harassing journalists
By Omega215D on 4/26/2010 7:57:04 PM , Rating: 2
so you find someone's phone with HIS contact info, yet you can still keep it with impunity? That's some serious bull.

unless the guy who found it called Apple HQ and not tech support it's considered stolen.

That said, I still don't know if this is part of a publicity stunt. XFX did something similar, ie. claiming product was stolen but they had a disclaimer on the bottom of the notice.

If it's not a stunt then yes the person who picked up the phone and Gizmodo broke the law. it needs to be 30 days before someone can claim a found item theirs.

RE: Apple harassing journalists
By walk2k on 4/26/2010 8:05:37 PM , Rating: 2
I do agree the police tactics here seem excessive.. they took his iPod? Really?? Like it would have email or text message or phone records? It's a damn iPod!

Reminds me of Steve Jackson Games all over again.

Also this:

RE: Apple harassing journalists
By Aloonatic on 4/27/2010 2:14:35 AM , Rating: 2
It's called finder's keepers
Maybe when you're 10, in the play ground.

There's a offence called "theft by finding" where, basically, you have to make a reasonable attempt to return what you find to the owner, else if you keep it, you are a thief. If you find £10 on the street, you're not going to be prosecuted as the odds are, it would be impossible to find the original owner. If you find a sack full of cash, then you need to hand it in, as someone will be looking for it. Same goes for found lottery tickets, I think there was a case not that long ago where a couple found a ticket that had one a large prize and were prosecuted. If the item has been abandoned, then it's yours.

It would be hard to claim that the "finder" was not able to return a mobile phone to its original owner, or that the phone was "abandoned" by them. Just call the network operator and they will do the rest, or with an iPhone, just go to your nearest Apple shop thing (whatever they're called) and clearly someone was looking for this, so it wasn't "abandoned".

Not that any of that matters, as this case didn't happen in the UK, but I thought you might want so clarity on the UK laws, so that you don't fall foul of them and find yourself looking foolish in court, using "play-ground" defences.

RE: Apple harassing journalists
By ekv on 4/26/2010 6:57:21 PM , Rating: 2
Rather indirect ... but note "Apple's veil of secrecy"

RE: Apple harassing journalists
By MartyLK on 4/27/2010 12:07:39 AM , Rating: 1
Thank you! Saved me the trouble of saying it myself.

RE: Apple harassing journalists
By dxf2891 on 4/27/2010 3:37:23 PM , Rating: 1
Well, if YOU pick up something I leave behind, you call that stealing?!?!? WTF?!?! It could be argued that GIZMODO offered a reward to find the missing phone and were never compensated by Apple for returning it. Apple got their phone back before the laws intervention. They received it from a person who found it unattended in a bar. He didn't take from the guy at gunpoint nor did he pick his pockets. He picked it up from a bar. The guy who found it had no legal obligation to return it. The fact that the owners got it back, and it was never reported as stolen, is causing a pretty sticky issue for these Tech Cops.

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