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Police seize Gizmodo writer's computers in iPhone case

updated 04:35 pm EDT, Mon April 26, 2010

Jason Chen has computers seized in iPhone hunt

The first signs of police action in the stolen iPhone prototype investigation have surfaced as it's now known that, late last Friday, California's Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team seized Gizmodo writer Jason Chen's computers. The move was allowed a search warrant granted by a San Mateo Superior Court judge and gives the police permission to search for evidence of who sold the iPhone. It will also include call records, searches for the Apple engineer who used the device, and most any other form of evidence that might link the news site to the prototype.

Among the items taken include two MacBooks, multiple Windows PCs, an iPad, an iPhone, a Motorola Droid and external storage drives.

Gawker, which owns the site, has already disputed the validity of the warrant. COO Gaby Darbyshire claimed in a response to the raid that both federal and state law prohibit seizing the assets of a member of the press. Chen is said to have notified raiding detective Matthew Broad about the relevant code before the seizure and, if true, may have put the officer in knowing violation of the law.

The raid confirms the existence of an early, formal investigation into the case but won't necessarily lead to pressing charges as this will depend on both the legitimacy of the warrant and, if allowed, any evidence that might be found on Chen's equipment.

REACT hasn't commented on the circumstances surrounding the raid.


By Electronista Staff
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  1. outdo13

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Dec 2007



    About time.

  1. c4rlob

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: May 2009


    The real crime...

    The real crime is a team running around calling itself "Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team" just so their acronym can be a"REACT". Jeesh!

  1. Feathers

    Grizzled Veteran

    Joined: Oct 1999


    Here we go again!

    Here comes the whole argument about whether bloggers are actually journalists... again. The answer is an independent co-operative body that issues official press accreditation so that real journalists have proper protection and are not tarnished by the actions of every half-azzed keyboard jockey out there!

  1. sribe

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jan 2003


    Here we again, not!

    The laws in place to protect journalists do *NOT* protect them from prosecution for property crimes. Whether or not these people are journalists will not even be an issue. That they are trying to make it an issue is a sign of desperation (or total delusion). The contention that buying stolen property is the same as buying information is absurd. The contention that journalist shield laws outlaw any seizure of equipment from a journalist, is equally absurd. Journalists can, in fact, be prosecuted for crimes--just like all of us ordinary citizens :-)

  1. Zang

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jan 2004


    The law...

    They committed one or more illegal acts in order to benefit their company. This is not Woodward and Bernstein here, this is Gawker media committing the press equivalent of industrial espionage. There was no "truth" that needed to be exposed, and no gain to society made by their "discovery."

  1. Flying Meat

    Dedicated MacNNer

    Joined: Jan 2007


    Could be in it deep

    If anything other than what was reported to have been the chain of events, such as direct contact with the Apple employee or the finder shortly before the event occurred, then it'll probably get real ugly, real fast.

  1. Alfiejr

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Aug 2008


    Two Separate Acts

    Buying stolen property is the legal issue. what chen/giz did with it afterward - the journalism part - is irrelevant. and the shield law applies to the second act, not the first.

    giz was so stupid. real pros like the national inquirer would have bought the thief's photos and "exclusive" story for 5k, and looked at the hardware to see what they could learn. and then publish all that info. that would have been completely legal (probably). but they would never never never have actually bought/taken possession of the merch itself. that is a prima facia crime.

    giz is going to try to make this a 'freedom of the press' cause. but it's really a freedom of the stupid case.

  1. Foxypaco

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2010


    I hope...

    they don't find kiddie p*** on his computers. That would be bad.

  1. climacs

    Mac Enthusiast

    Joined: Sep 2001


    the real crime

    is that MacNN censor filters are so tight-butted that even the word 'p***' is censored. For fark's sake, MacNN, is the proportion of easily-impressionable juvenile readers THAT high around here? And even if it is... do we really have to protect them from the word 'p***'?

  1. justinishulk

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2010


    genius leak...

    it is obvious that Jason knew what he was doing when he bought that phone. Criminal charges against him and Gizmodo are definitely appropriate under these circumstances.

    I think that this development should put the rumored "genius leak" campaign to rest.

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