A short while ago, Gizmodo published a story on an iPhone prototype that they had picked up for $5000 from someone who had found the device. As it turned out, the device was an advanced-stage iPhone 4G prototype. Gizmodo people had the audacity to go through the devices’ features and post images and videos to make their point. Apple is furious with the whole debacle. Many of us expected Apple to do something, but who knew the company would go as far as getting the cops involved in the process (seems the engineer has done that). That’s not to say that Apple does not have the right to investigate how the leak took place. But treating Gizmodo people as criminals is not exactly the best way to go forward. It is not a good situation for Gizmodo and not the right PR move by Apple.
Jason Chen, a Gizmodo blogger, has had his house searched and his computers/servers confiscated by the cops as a part of an ongoing investigation by the cops over the lost iPhone 4G story. They did have a search warrant, but did they have the right to confiscate what they did is a whole other topic.
Last Friday night, California’s Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team entered editor Jason Chen’s home without him present, seizing four computers and two servers. They did so using a warrant by Judge of Superior Court of San Mateo,
Claimed Gizmodo. Gizmodo has argued that the cops have ignored California’s shield law when they confiscated Jason’s computers. But it is not as simple as that. The shield law would not apply if Gizmodo is considered to be the party that has committed felony here. Gizmodo has bought an iPhone that turned out to be stolen. That could open a big can of worms for the blog and Gawker Media.
It’s not clear whether a prosecutor can argue that Gizmodo bought the device fully knowing that it was stolen. I am not sure it is necessary at this point. As a blogger, I may be a bit biased when it comes to dealing with this story. But we all know that Gizmodo was only looking for a story. They have done a great job of leaking one of the biggest stories of this summer a few months ahead of time. Does Apple have a right to protect its business to the best of its ability. Absolutely! I am not sure going after bloggers is the way to go.
We certainly would not have bought that iPhone if it were offered to us for much less money. It was an audacious, and perhaps dumb, move by the folks at Gizmodo. But what has been more disturbing is how journalists have been treated over breaking such a big story. The good news is the district DA is reevaluating whether shields law apply to Gizmodo’s situation. The bad news is we probably have a long way to go before this story is done and dusted.
What do you think? Should Gizmodo be criminally charged over iPhone 4G leak?