updated 10:55 pm EDT, Mon April 26, 2010
DA interrupts search to reconsider laws
Shortly after the Electronic Frontier Foundation voiced concerns over the legality surrounding a police raid of Gizmodo editor Jason Chen's residence, the DA has decided to halt its investigation of the leaked iPhone prototype. TechCrunch contacted Stephen Wagstaffe, Chief Deputy at San Mateo County District Attorney's Office, who acknowledged that the case has been paused for further review.
Wagstaffe was careful to point out that the case is "just an investigation" and the DA has yet to file formal charges. The deputy also suggested that the investigation is not yet targeting Gawker or the discoverer of the iPhone prototype, as the gathered information must first be submitted to the DA for a final decision.
When asked about the legality of the warrants and property seizure, Wagstaffe claimed the prosecutor in the case believed that Chen was not protected by California's shield laws which require the government to file a subpoena to obtain materials used by a journalist to communicate with the public. Earlier reports suggested the task force seized four computers, two servers, an iPhone, a digital camera, bank statements, and e-mail printouts.
Amid accusations of misconduct, the DA allegedly intends to reevaluate the potential application of shield laws to the seizure of Chen's equipment. TechCrunch asked if it was typical for the DA to evaluate the relevance of shield laws only after taking property. The deputy acknowledged that such actions were unusual. He also dismissed speculation that Apple had played any role, despite the company's position on the steering committee for the REACT task force that served the warrant, as noted by Yahoo News.