Police raid Gizmodo editor’s home

You may have heard about the lost prototype for the next iPhone (h/t to SayUncle for that, btw) that was bought and deconstructed by Gizmodo a little while ago. It looks like Apple is just a bit ticked off about the whole thing.

Police broke into the home of Gizmodo editor Jason Chen and confiscated four computers and two servers, the tech blog reports. Gizmodo broke the news last week about Apple’s next-generation iPhone, after paying a source who found it in a California bar $5,000 for the device.

The officers were from the Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team (REACT), a California law enforcement group based in Silicon Valley. In the search warrant, which Gizmodo posted, REACT officers checked a box indicating that they were looking for property “used as a means of committing a felony.”

Of course, Gizmodo is trying to claim some kind of journalistic immunity for buying stolen property and attempting to profit from it.

Gaby Darbyshire, Gawker’s chief operating officer, wrote to the police that Chen “tells me that he showed you an email I had sent him earlier that day that told him that he should tell you that under both state and federal law, a search warrant may not be validly issued to confiscate the property of a journalist.”


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.

I have no sympathy for Jason Chen or Gizmodo in this case. No matter how the guy Gizmodo bought it from actually got it, that phone became stolen property as soon as the he decided to sell it (for $5000!) rather than return it to Apple, who he knew (or should have reasonably known) was the proper owner. When Gizmodo, apparently in the person of Jason Chen, chose to buy that stolen property and not return it immediately to it’s proper owner (and they actually published that they knew it belonged to Apple), they took possession of stolen property for their own personal benefit. When they published the photos and information about the phone, they committed what could be argued to be industrial sabotage (do you really want to bet that every smartphone manufacturer in the world didn’t immediately save every bit of that article on their internal servers and immediately send it right to their development teams?).

There was no whistleblowing here. No attempt to expose corruption or crime. Nothing that should trigger any kind of journalist “shield law”. This was done purely for personal gain – something which should, in fact, specifically negate any properly written shield law that might apply here.

You bought something from someone you knew had no legitimate business selling it. You knew it didn’t belong to him. You knew it was, effectively, stolen – no matter how it came into his possession in the first place. Now you have to live with the consequences.

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  1. Such a Shapeless Sash!Never Up, Never in » Blog Archive » Police Raid Gizmodo Editor’s Home Curses! Foiled Again!
  2. fhutz.com — Blog — Police Raid Gizmodo Editor's Home Curses! Foiled Again!

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