updated 09:35 pm EDT, Mon April 26, 2010
Foundation cites journalists rights in CA
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has criticized California's Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team for raiding the home of Gizmodo editor Jason Chen. Police last week served a search warrant at the residence, seizing Chen's computers and documents as part of an investigation into the saga surrounding the leaked iPhone prototype.
EFF civil liberties director Jennifer Granick argues that the warrant may violate certain protections afforded to Chen as a journalist, according to a Wired report. Granick claims that federal law prohibits the government from seizing materials that are used by journalists for the purpose of communicating to the public, even if the individual committed a crime.
Journalists are not entirely immune to legal scrutiny, although investigators must first obtain a subpoena to give time to challenge the request. The regulations have been put in place to protect against forcing journalists to disclose sources or sensitive information.
"California law is crystal clear that bloggers are journalists, too," Granick said.
The REACT team reportedly seized four computers, two servers, an iPhone, digital cameras and banking account records. Ironically, the task force also took an e-mail printout from a Gawker associate who wrote to Chen about the Californian shield law and protection against warrants served on journalists.
Granick also suggests that REACT utilized a warrant that was overly broad, enabling officers to seize all of Chen's hardware instead of materials determined to be directly related to the iPhone investigation.