Police Raid Gizmodo Editor's Home

12:15 PM -- Police have raided the home of Gizmodo editor Jason Chen after the site paid $5,000 for, and wrote about, a prototype of a lost or stolen (depending on whom you ask) next-gen iPhone.

During the raid on Friday, California's Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team (REACT, geddit?), who, according to Chen, broke down his front door because he was out to dinner with his wife at the time they arrived, confiscated four computers and two servers.

Gizmodo returned the iPhone in question to Apple last week, but the office of San Mateo County district attorney Stephen Wagstaffe is still considering criminal charges. According to Wagstaffe, Apple prompted the investigation when it contacted authorities and "advised us there had been a theft."

Gizmodo parent Gawker Media is claiming the search and seizure was illegal since it confiscated property of a journalist, which is protected under the California Shield Law. Depending on how things proceed, these events could have a huge impact on the future of media and whether or not bloggers are treated as journalists under the law.

According to TechCrunch, Wagstaffe is now reevaluating "whether those shield laws do apply, and will not begin going through Chen’s possessions until they’ve reached a decision in the next few days."

— Erin Barker, Digital Content Reporter, Light Reading Cable

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:38:23 PM
re: Police Raid Gizmodo Editor's Home

Yes, I realize this is Apple-related, but I'm surprised they are going to such lengths on this one. Also strange that the DA's office didn't get its shield law ducks in a row before they decided to play storm the castle. JB

opticalwatcher 12/5/2012 | 4:38:21 PM
re: Police Raid Gizmodo Editor's Home

Assuming that there was a theft involved (and taking property that is known to have been lost and not contacting the owner or giving it to the police is considered theft), then isn't this just a theft investigation? Does the shield law protect reporters from this? Could you steal my car, then write about it and return it to me and be immune from a police investigation?

erinbarker 12/5/2012 | 4:38:21 PM
re: Police Raid Gizmodo Editor's Home

Yeah, I too was wondering why they hadn't anticipated that argument... or that Gawker would make a fuss about it. Obviously the San Mateo DA is not familiar with Nick Denton.

Also seems like if Apple had played it cool this whole thing would have blown over by now and people would have been sort of doubtful that Gizmodo had uncovered the real thing... Now it's obvious they found the real next-gen iPhone.

erinbarker 12/5/2012 | 4:38:20 PM
re: Police Raid Gizmodo Editor's Home

This is true -- the shield law doesn't protect evidence related to the comission of a crime. And I believe that this could apply even if the iPhone was lost rather than stolen, as Gawker has claimed.

However, I'm still surprised both that Apple wanted to take things this far and that the DA didn't expect Gawker to try to wield it anyway.

DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 4:38:18 PM
re: Police Raid Gizmodo Editor's Home

Where are you parked?


re: Could you steal my car, then write about it and return it to me and be immune from a police investigation?

DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 4:38:17 PM
re: Police Raid Gizmodo Editor's Home

If we believe Gawker's account, then it paid a person (who did not claim to the phone's owner) so it could take possession of a phone that it knew it couldn't keep.

It's a tad convoluted, but that's theft.

So what does this mean for the future of journalism? Nothing. Police are simply investigating a theft, albeit a highly-publicized one.

bollocks187 12/5/2012 | 4:38:11 PM
re: Police Raid Gizmodo Editor's Home

Now that is a sign of hi-tech crazies in action. It is the Bad Apple becoming MSFT.

Yet all they did was reprot on it. If it is a theft of a phone then the force used to recover it is excessive - new phone or old its a phone. Apple should have callled and sent someone over to Gizmo and asked for the phone back - kicking the door down c'mon lets get real. If they where however paying to get the protoype then okay he should go to jail.





DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 4:38:09 PM
re: Police Raid Gizmodo Editor's Home Tell that to the judge who signed the warrant. I don't think Apple is to blame for filing a police report. Now if you think the police were a bit gung-ho in executing the search warrant, that's another matter. But I think even in that case, you'll find that forced entry to execute a warrant is pretty common.
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