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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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It's probably not about Apple...
By Roffles on 4/26/2010 6:52:26 PM , Rating: 2
I think a lot of tech geeks are so used to prototype leaks, whether intentional or not, that they have become desensitized to the reality of these situations.

This wasn't just some phone, and Gizmoto knew it. They bought a disguised prototype, photographed all it's secrets, and went public with their findings. This is nothing short of profit driven espionage. How can anyone say the first amendment protects this behavior?

My guess is that Apple is out to set an example and other companies out there with their own prototypes appreciate the fact that some precedence is finally being set in the matter.

RE: It's probably not about Apple...
By ICBM on 4/26/10, Rating: 0
RE: It's probably not about Apple...
By porkpie on 4/26/2010 7:56:01 PM , Rating: 2
"Of course Giz knew it was a prototype...The 1st Amendment absolutely protects this type of information"

Your high school civics teacher should be fired for incompetence. How in the world did you conclude that a criminal conspiracy to profit from stolen trade secrets counts as "freedom of speech"?

By screamlordbyron on 4/26/2010 9:40:59 PM , Rating: 3
Actually, it appears that perhaps you were the one to flunk civics, as well as "basic fact checking."

(1) The fact that Apple let this phone out into the wild probably, on its face defeats most expectation of trade secret protection.

(2) The phone was not stolen, it was lost or abandoned. Thus it is unlikely that there is a prosecutable conspiracy.

(3) The search warrant which was executed appears to have been contrary to California law, which excepts journalists from this type of search warrant.

(4) The police were aware the fact they improperly obtained a warrant against a journalist, as Gawker Media's COO and General Counsel had put the DA's office on notice earlier that day.

(5) There have, as of yet been no charges brought against Mr. Chen of Gawker Media. It is very possible that there is not intent to bring charges against them related to their possession of the phone, unless perhaps it appears that they did something further, such as retained a coned copy of the firmware, etc.

While I'm not saying that Gizmodo was 100% above board here, most of this talk about criminal conspiracy, stolen trade secrets, etc. is way over the top. To the contrary, it appears that the police here knowingly violated California law in obtaining an improper warrant. The whole thing is one big ugly mess of bad (if not illegal) behavior on all sides.

By Xaussie on 4/26/2010 8:47:42 PM , Rating: 2
Who cares about the leak. It's just a stupid iPhone. This is about (a) the theft of personal property from a bar (b) someone purchasing property that was clearly stolen (or does Gizmodo think Apple has started selling off prototypes PRIOR to product release to make ends meet or something ???).

And for those who think this is such a special case, start buying stolen property and then blog about the cool stuff you've gotten your hands on. See how long it takes before there's an axe through your front door!

Has anyone noticed that we've only heard the thief's side of the story, which of course paints him in the most glowing altruistic light possible. When the truth comes out we might just hear that the person is actually a professional pick-pocket who was able to swipe a phone from an unsuspecting engineer without getting caught (yet).

If he wasn't stealing it why not just hand it to the establishment. Isn't the first thing any of us would do if we lost something of value in a bar, call the bar and ask if someone handed in an iPhone? Why would you walk out of the place and take it home (and not hand it in to the police either) if your sole intent wasn't to steal it and try and sell it to make money (which surprise! is exactly what he did).

RE: It's probably not about Apple...
By Roffles on 4/26/2010 8:55:15 PM , Rating: 2
Haha okay, you keep pretending it's "just" a phone and I'll keep pretending it's not a disguised secret prototype for the multi-billion dollar iPhone brand. You can also pretend all you want Gizmoto purchasing a stolen phone for $5,000 doesn't break a code of journalistic ethics. It reeks of everything that's wrong with journalism and the media.

Furthermore, people seem to be perfectly fine with the "i found it on the floor of a bar and i tried to return it without success" story.

A few things that draw suspicion:

1. California bay area residents *in general*, ESPECIALLY those 20-somethings who populate bars in Redwood city, know their phones. It wouldn't be a huge shock to learn that the person who "found" it at the bar quickly (very quickly) discovered he had a gold nugget in his possession.

2. The phone was bricked/disable the very next day, possibly even tracked by Apple. For all we know, Apple knew of the phone's whereabouts and let this happen. Their could be another side to this story entirely and this house raid is just a part of it.

RE: It's probably not about Apple...
By ICBM on 4/26/2010 10:21:58 PM , Rating: 1
Yes it is just a phone. If this was a first generation iphone prototype, then it would be a slightly bigger deal. Since every iphone release since then has been the same thing with tiny improvements makes it a relatively boring device.

People saying this is the problem with journalism I think don't really understand. Are these people saying it is better to just wait to report on press releases put forth by governments and people instead of digging in and trying to find things out for themselves.

Giz gave the device back, willing. They never claimed ownership. You could consider the money as paying to access the device. Journalist do this all the time with informants and buying information. This may be slighlty below some of your ethics, but alot of journalism is.

I stick by my original statement placing all the blame on Apple. If they let the device loose, then that is their bad. I understand Steve himself monitors the prototypes, so this egg is directly on his face.

By porkpie on 4/26/2010 10:56:13 PM , Rating: 1
"Giz gave the device back, willing."

Giving the phone back after publishing all its secrets is rather like giving the farmer back his daughter after you've already impregnated her.

By robinthakur on 4/27/2010 12:20:46 PM , Rating: 2
This may be slighlty below some of your ethics

Yes. Yes it is. Gizmodo knew what they were doing when they published this exposée on "just a phone" (LOL!) the stolen property they paid $5000 to "access" which billions of dollars and an entire worldwide industry rides on. If for no other reason than the gross invasion of privacy they carried out by naming the individual that 'lost' the prototype, they are the lowest of the low.

Where the concept of 'jouranlistic integrity' is concerned I don't think it really expected to apply to Consumer Electronic Sites...they aren't war reporters. Expect repercussions....

By Chocobollz on 4/27/2010 5:37:08 AM , Rating: 2
Ok, so if I lost my daughter and you found her on the street, you basically have the rights to take her home, and do whatever you like to her. Very good point. One question though, do you even have a brain?

“So far we have not seen a single Android device that does not infringe on our patents." -- Microsoft General Counsel Brad Smith

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