Last week I wrote about how a new iPhone prototype got leaked to Gizmodo and how Apple’s legal dept sent them a letter demanding the device back. So Giz agreed and returned the phone. End of story right? Not so fast!
Yesterday the Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team (REACT), a special police task force focusing on computer-related crimes, raided the home of Jason Chen, the blogger (journalist?) who wrote the article and created the video of the new iPhone for Gizmodo. Jason was not home at the time so they broke down his door, taking everything from his computers, iPad, external hard drives, digital camera, and even his business cards. When Jason arrived home with his wife, police told him that they had a warrant for the search and then proceeded to frisk him and search his car.
Gaby Darbyshire, C.O.O. of Gawker Media, parent company of Gizmodo, was quick to respond stating that the search warrant was invalid. She cited the “journalist shield law” (Section 1070 of the California Evidence code) which states, in a nutshell, that members of the press do not need to disclose the sources of material for their articles. She also notes that the search was in progress when Jason returned at 9:45PM, while the warrant specifically disallows a night search.
This seemed to have stopped the investigation in its tracks, and the San Mateo County District Attorney’s office determining whether or not the journalist shield law applies in this case. On the one side, people argue that it does apply and that the police should have issued a subpoena requesting Jason/Gizmodo turn specific evidence over to them. On the other side, people argue that the warrant does apply being that this is a criminal investigation of possible corporate espionage and the acquisition of what could be considered stolen property (journalists are not shielded from this).
An interesting side-note to the story is that Apple sits on the REACT board, which has spawned numerous conspiracy theories that Apple themselves prompted the police raid. As outrageous as that may sound, how many times have you heard of the police raiding someone’s house over a lost Blackberry?
So as of right now the police still have Jason’s gear, though they say they have not started examining any of the property, pending the DA’s office determination of whether the journalist shield law applies. All I can say is good luck brother, keep fighting the good fight! Due to the pending legal issue, Gizmodo has disabled comments on their main post, but feel free to leave your opinions here in the comments below!
I leave you with this truly epic skit from Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show (skip to 1:20 for Apple-related segment):