Jason Chen (of Gizmodo) gets house raided, assets seized

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Jason Chen (of Gizmodo) gets house raided, assets seized

Postby tzvibish » Mon Apr 26, 2010 9:24 pm UTC

Following some controversy (protip: understatement) over the leaked and misplaced iPhone 4G, police have seized computers and servers belonging to Jason Chen, E-o-C over at Gizmodo. Gawker Media LLC is claiming that it was illegal, and it looks like they have a pretty fool-proof argument.

http://www.neowin.net/news/gizmodo-editor-jason-chen-gets-house-raided-assets-seized
Jason Chen, Editor of Gizmodo.com, came home Friday night to a surprise visit from California's Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team, according to Gizmodo. Following the issuing of a warrant from the Judge of the Superior Court of San Mateo, CA, officers seized four computers and two servers from his residence. Gawker Media LLC is defending Chen and claiming that according to the California Legal Code, such a search and seizure was illegal.

The warrant clearly states that the search was for any material surrounding the controversial iPhone 4G prototype, and that anything deemed related to the iPhone prototype would be brought in and analyzed by forensic experts for any signs of misconduct or felony.

Gawker Media's COO, Gaby Darbyshire, responded to the seizure with a letter stating very clearly that this was illegal on grounds that:

Chen was a journalist.
He worked out of his home.
Section 1524(g) of the CA penal code clearly states that a journalist cannot be subpoenaed for refusal to reveal a source.
Section 1070 of said code clearly states that a warrant cannot be issued for seizure of any objects described in section 1524(g)
An 'X' mark by "Night Search Approved" would disallow any seizure during the evening hours. The search commenced at 9:45 PM.
According to Chen's account of the night, when he came back from dinner with his wife, the officers had already entered his house. They encouraged him to stay away from the house while the search was underway, but that he was not under arrest. After about a half an hour, the officers took what they came for and left. They told him he could file for reimbursement for the door they bashed in, and that they had taken photos to prove that no other damage was inflicted on the house.

Gizmodo has come under fire recently for its behavior in acquiring an alleged prototype of the iPhone 4G from an Apple engineer, due for release this summer.


This is only getting more interesting by the day.
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Re: Jason Chen (of Gizmodo) gets house raided, assets seized

Postby J the Ninja » Mon Apr 26, 2010 9:36 pm UTC

Shit happens when you buy stolen* property




*under California law, a lost item is considered stolen if the finder does not make a "reasonable effort" to return it to the owner. Considering this guy never contacted the bar or the police, and made only a half-assed attempt to contact Apple (calling the tech support line), Apple could have a pretty good case the iPhone was not only trade secrets, but outright stolen property.
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Re: Jason Chen (of Gizmodo) gets house raided, assets seized

Postby scikidus » Mon Apr 26, 2010 9:44 pm UTC

This is a little excessive, no? Bring the guy to court, sure, ask to search his house, fine, but busting down the door while he's not home like he's got a bomb inside? Come on, we're better than this.
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Re: Jason Chen (of Gizmodo) gets house raided, assets seized

Postby Woofsie » Mon Apr 26, 2010 9:45 pm UTC

Holy shit, Apple don't mess around do they?

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Re: Jason Chen (of Gizmodo) gets house raided, assets seized

Postby Seraph » Mon Apr 26, 2010 9:50 pm UTC

scikidus wrote:This is a little excessive, no? Bring the guy to court, sure, ask to search his house, fine, but busting down the door while he's not home like he's got a bomb inside? Come on, we're better than this.

The police have better things to do then sit around for hours waiting for someone who may or may not be comming home soon.

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Re: Jason Chen (of Gizmodo) gets house raided, assets seized

Postby TaintedDeity » Mon Apr 26, 2010 9:51 pm UTC

And that's exactly the impression they're trying to give, scikidus.
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Re: Jason Chen (of Gizmodo) gets house raided, assets seized

Postby Crius » Mon Apr 26, 2010 10:04 pm UTC

The warrant clearly states that the search was for any material surrounding the controversial iPhone 4G prototype,


What exactly does this mean? If only one iPhone was missing, and one got returned (with no missing parts), what are they expecting to find?

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Re: Jason Chen (of Gizmodo) gets house raided, assets seized

Postby Woofsie » Mon Apr 26, 2010 10:05 pm UTC

TaintedDeity wrote:'Mess with us and we'll act over the top because we're hardass motherfuckers'

That reminds me so much of this. I guess it was the iPhone 4G that was in the suitcase all along. :)

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Re: Jason Chen (of Gizmodo) gets house raided, assets seized

Postby TaintedDeity » Mon Apr 26, 2010 10:06 pm UTC

And information about it that had been written down, I imagine.
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Re: Jason Chen (of Gizmodo) gets house raided, assets seized

Postby skeptical scientist » Mon Apr 26, 2010 10:07 pm UTC

TaintedDeity wrote:And that's exactly the impression they're trying to give, scikidus.
'Mess with us and we'll act over the top because we're hardass motherfuckers'

Whatever happened to "don't be evil"?
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Re: Jason Chen (of Gizmodo) gets house raided, assets seized

Postby Dream » Mon Apr 26, 2010 10:10 pm UTC

It's evil to call the cops if someone releases all your trade secrets to bump their ad revenue a bit? With a warrant issued, and Gizmodo apparently in possession of stolen goods, I don't see an overreaction here. Sure, Apple are opening themselves to bad PR, but it's not like Jobs led the raid. They probably just set out their claims against Gizmodo, sent it to the police department, who raided the house.
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Re: Jason Chen (of Gizmodo) gets house raided, assets seized

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Mon Apr 26, 2010 10:11 pm UTC

skeptical scientist wrote:
TaintedDeity wrote:And that's exactly the impression they're trying to give, scikidus.
'Mess with us and we'll act over the top because we're hardass motherfuckers'

Whatever happened to "don't be evil"?

Isn't that Google's thing?
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Re: Jason Chen (of Gizmodo) gets house raided, assets seized

Postby skeptical scientist » Mon Apr 26, 2010 10:26 pm UTC

Dream wrote:It's evil to call the cops if someone releases all your trade secrets to bump their ad revenue a bit?

Yes, when they were entirely within their rights as journalists to share what they knew.
With a warrant issued, and Gizmodo apparently in possession of stolen goods, I don't see an overreaction here.

Go read this. Apple asked for their phone back, as they had every right to do, and Gizmodo was happy to return it. This later action was completely unethical.
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Re: Jason Chen (of Gizmodo) gets house raided, assets seized

Postby Vaniver » Mon Apr 26, 2010 10:34 pm UTC

Yeah, "an employee accidentally left something in a public place, we obtained it, and we looked at it" doesn't really make for industrial espionage. For it to be a trade secret, you have to keep it secret.
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Re: Jason Chen (of Gizmodo) gets house raided, assets seized

Postby skeptical scientist » Mon Apr 26, 2010 10:43 pm UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:
skeptical scientist wrote:Whatever happened to "don't be evil"?

Isn't that Google's thing?

Oops.

On the other hand, not having "don't be evil" as one's unofficial corporate motto does not give one license to be evil.
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Re: Jason Chen (of Gizmodo) gets house raided, assets seized

Postby J the Ninja » Mon Apr 26, 2010 10:44 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:Yeah, "an employee accidentally left something in a public place, we obtained it, and we looked at it" doesn't really make for industrial espionage. For it to be a trade secret, you have to keep it secret.


More like "an employee left something in a public place, some guy found it and sold it to us instead of giving it to the staff of that public place or calling the police, then we bought it off him for $5k, even though that price is 10x too high unless we knew it was a trade secret, and fully intended to milk it for page views"
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Re: Jason Chen (of Gizmodo) gets house raided, assets seized

Postby psyck0 » Tue Apr 27, 2010 2:41 am UTC

The point is that it's not a trade secret after they lose it.

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Re: Jason Chen (of Gizmodo) gets house raided, assets seized

Postby Pez Dispens3r » Tue Apr 27, 2010 2:55 am UTC

J the Ninja wrote:
Vaniver wrote:Yeah, "an employee accidentally left something in a public place, we obtained it, and we looked at it" doesn't really make for industrial espionage. For it to be a trade secret, you have to keep it secret.


More like "an employee left something in a public place, some guy found it and sold it to us instead of giving it to the staff of that public place or calling the police, then we bought it off him for $5k, even though that price is 10x too high unless we knew it was a trade secret, and fully intended to milk it for page views"

Gizmodo wrote:The person who eventually ended up with the lost iPhone was sitting next to Powell. He was drinking with a friend too. He noticed Powell on the stool next to him but didn't think twice about him at the time. Not until Powell had already left the bar, and a random really drunk guy—who'd been sitting on the other side of Powell—returned from the bathroom to his own stool.

The Random Really Drunk Guy pointed at the iPhone sitting on the stool, the precious prototype left by the young Apple engineer.

"Hey man, is that your iPhone?" asked Random Really Drunk Guy.

"Hmmm, what?" replied the person who ended up with the iPhone. "No, no, it isn't mine."

"Ooooh, I guess it's your friend's then," referring to a friend who at the time was in the bathroom. "Here, take it," said the Random Really Drunk Guy, handing it to him. "You don't want to lose it." After that, the Random Really Drunk Guy also left the bar.

The person who ended up with the iPhone asked around, but nobody claimed it. He thought about that young guy sitting next to him, so he and his friend stayed there for some time, waiting. Powell never came back.
The guy also called Apple, and sat on it for a few weeks, so it wasn't like you claimed it was. Gizmodo didn't act in the best faith, but a story landed on their laps. What were they meant to do? Their job, done properly, is about shining light on hidden information.
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Re: Jason Chen (of Gizmodo) gets house raided, assets seized

Postby Dangermouse » Tue Apr 27, 2010 3:44 am UTC

Pez Dispens3r wrote:
J the Ninja wrote:
Vaniver wrote:Yeah, "an employee accidentally left something in a public place, we obtained it, and we looked at it" doesn't really make for industrial espionage. For it to be a trade secret, you have to keep it secret.


More like "an employee left something in a public place, some guy found it and sold it to us instead of giving it to the staff of that public place or calling the police, then we bought it off him for $5k, even though that price is 10x too high unless we knew it was a trade secret, and fully intended to milk it for page views"

Gizmodo wrote:The person who eventually ended up with the lost iPhone was sitting next to Powell. He was drinking with a friend too. He noticed Powell on the stool next to him but didn't think twice about him at the time. Not until Powell had already left the bar, and a random really drunk guy—who'd been sitting on the other side of Powell—returned from the bathroom to his own stool.

The Random Really Drunk Guy pointed at the iPhone sitting on the stool, the precious prototype left by the young Apple engineer.

"Hey man, is that your iPhone?" asked Random Really Drunk Guy.

"Hmmm, what?" replied the person who ended up with the iPhone. "No, no, it isn't mine."

"Ooooh, I guess it's your friend's then," referring to a friend who at the time was in the bathroom. "Here, take it," said the Random Really Drunk Guy, handing it to him. "You don't want to lose it." After that, the Random Really Drunk Guy also left the bar.

The person who ended up with the iPhone asked around, but nobody claimed it. He thought about that young guy sitting next to him, so he and his friend stayed there for some time, waiting. Powell never came back.
The guy also called Apple, and sat on it for a few weeks, so it wasn't like you claimed it was. Gizmodo didn't act in the best faith, but a story landed on their laps. What were they meant to do? Their job, done properly, is about shining light on hidden information.



Exactly. There was an NDA between Apple and the Apple engineer who lost the phone, but Gizmodo is perfectly within their rights as journalists to publish whatever found/bought material crosses their desks.

With respect to journalists, 1st amendment protections in the USA have been -broadly- defined in judicial precedent. I think the interesting question that arrises from this mess is "are bloggers journalists?" Its a question the courts will need to consider eventually...

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Re: Jason Chen (of Gizmodo) gets house raided, assets seized

Postby Krong » Tue Apr 27, 2010 6:22 am UTC

First of all, I'm not sure the legal argument against the search is really that sound. With regard to the night search thing, the article linked has the facts a little wrong -- the search had been underway for several hours by 9:45, it wasn't starting then. Also, I'm sure that checkbox has a whole string of laws behind it that haven't been brought up yet; I doubt that a specialized police unit is going to screw things up like that in such a high-profile case.

As far as the "you can't do this to journalists" argument goes, I'm not sure that that extends to investigation of crimes by the journalist himself. This is what I'm talking about:

http://www.businessinsider.com/henry-bl ... ony-2010-4

Gizmodo obviously knew the phone did not belong to the guy who was selling it to them, so purchasing it would likely be a crime. The shield law referenced is for protecting the identities of sources, not for protecting journalists who want to break the law to drive up hitcounts.
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Re: Jason Chen (of Gizmodo) gets house raided, assets seized

Postby LuNatic » Tue Apr 27, 2010 8:35 am UTC

Krong wrote:Gizmodo obviously knew the phone did not belong to the guy who was selling it to them, so purchasing it would likely be a crime. The shield law referenced is for protecting the identities of sources, not for protecting journalists who want to break the law to drive up hitcounts.


This. Not only did they buy the thing, but they gutted it and posted photos on their website. How does that sit under Californian law? Vandalism? Destruction of property?
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Re: Jason Chen (of Gizmodo) gets house raided, assets seized

Postby wst » Tue Apr 27, 2010 9:10 am UTC

Dream wrote:It's evil to call the cops if someone releases all your trade secrets to bump their ad revenue a bit?
2 things. 1) That's not all their trade secrets. There's a real fuckton of stuff they didn't find out. 2) It's their job to find information and do whatever they like with it. That's the whole point of journalism.
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Re: Jason Chen (of Gizmodo) gets house raided, assets seized

Postby Dream » Tue Apr 27, 2010 12:24 pm UTC

Read the two posts above yours. When you see someone committing a crime, you don't encourage them by rewarding it financially. That's all there is to it really. I'd go mental over this were the journalist concerned doing something socially or politically important, maybe something where they needed to engage in some technically illegal acts to cover a very hard story. But they weren't. They bought a stolen phone because they knew they'd get $5,000 worth of clicks and a shedload of free publicity, even if they didn't get to reveal any really important information. It was blatant self-interested criminal profiteering. I'd expect the police to become involved if I found someone handling my stolen goods for personal gain, even if they're a blogger. I'm sure Apple would too.
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Re: Jason Chen (of Gizmodo) gets house raided, assets seized

Postby BlackSails » Tue Apr 27, 2010 12:37 pm UTC

J the Ninja wrote:*under California law, a lost item is considered stolen if the finder does not make a "reasonable effort" to return it to the owner. Considering this guy never contacted the bar or the police, and made only a half-assed attempt to contact Apple (calling the tech support line), Apple could have a pretty good case the iPhone was not only trade secrets, but outright stolen property.


A half assed attempt? He called Apple. He spoke with an offical representative of apple. Who else should he have called?

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Re: Jason Chen (of Gizmodo) gets house raided, assets seized

Postby Sytri » Tue Apr 27, 2010 12:56 pm UTC

Dream wrote:...... I'd go mental over this were the journalist concerned doing something socially or politically important, maybe something where they needed to engage in some technically illegal acts to cover a very hard story. But they weren't....... I'd expect the police to become involved if I found someone handling my stolen goods for personal gain, even if they're a blogger. I'm sure Apple would too.


Differentiating between whats constitutes as journalism worthy of being protected and whats not leads us down a path we dont want to walk. Either all types of journalism are protected or none of it is. Picking and choosing isnt an option.

And seeing as they returned the mobile back to apple; after they had already tried to do so and Apple only got serious when it was put up on the net, what else could there be that the police would need to raid someones house and take their computer? Everyting contained there is protected by the law. This wont create a big storm about what is or is not journalism but it should. If they are saying a blogger isnt a journalist then it could lead to bigger problems down the road.

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and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

THEN THEY CAME for me
and by that time no one was left to speak up."

Just because it seems like an inconsequential thing now doesnt mean that it always will be. Rights must always be upheld for every person, regardless of what you think of them.

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Re: Jason Chen (of Gizmodo) gets house raided, assets seized

Postby Bubbles McCoy » Tue Apr 27, 2010 1:07 pm UTC

This isn't even a matter of being inconsequential, the journalist deliberately sought out stolen property for the sake of a story. While they mat have been able to get away with snapping a few pics before Apple came to requisition it, California law is very specific about what you can do with stolen property with good reason. Journalism as a guise does protect a lot, and if this was a simple matter of a few concepts being shared with a journalist by an engineer then the reporter should be fully shielded and likely would be, but that is not this case - anyone who willfully engages in illegal trade should be vulnerable to the according statutes, journalist or no.

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Re: Jason Chen (of Gizmodo) gets house raided, assets seized

Postby Sytri » Tue Apr 27, 2010 1:16 pm UTC

I was under the impression (as stated in other posts) that the person who initially sold the phone had tried to contact Apple in many different ways. How does Cali law take that into account? I know that someone has said that they need to make reasonable (stupid word) attempts to get it back to the owner. What happens after they have and it still cant be returned?
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Re: Jason Chen (of Gizmodo) gets house raided, assets seized

Postby Dream » Tue Apr 27, 2010 1:22 pm UTC

Sytri wrote:Differentiating between whats constitutes as journalism worthy of being protected and whats not leads us down a path we dont want to walk.
If the raid was for reporting the story, there's a big problem. If the raid was for knowingly handling stolen goods and committing industrial espionage by paying for those goods, then there is no problem. If the second were true, and the motive some greater good, I'd be on the side of the journalist. It wasn't.

Bringing up Martin Niemoeller is the most ridiculous thing I've seen in a long time, and I'm watching an election campaign. Get some perspective on this, and while you're at it maybe try to understand the situation Niemoeller was talking about.

I was under the impression (as stated in other posts) that the person who initially sold the phone had tried to contact Apple in many different ways

He called tech support. He knew he had extremely valuable prototype equipment in his possession. That's like finding classified military documents and calling the public school system. I mean, it's all the same government, right? If they wanted the stuff back I'm sure the head teacher in that school would have known.

And in any case, that wouldn't exonerate Gizmodo, who would still be buying stolen property.
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Re: Jason Chen (of Gizmodo) gets house raided, assets seized

Postby Pez Dispens3r » Tue Apr 27, 2010 1:29 pm UTC

Sytri wrote:"THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Communist.

THEN THEY CAME for the Jews,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a Jew.

THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak up because I wasn't a trade unionist.

THEN THEY CAME for me
and by that time no one was left to speak up."

Slippery slope fallacy.

If you're to use that quote with any legitimacy, you need to demonstrate that Chen's house being raided could easily lead to a disaster scenario such that there is no freedom of the press. Otherwise you're being an alarmist, and a bore, which is an impressive combination if you think about it. But anyway, when did anyone ever say that Chen isn't being treated like a journalist because he's a blogger?

Dream wrote:He called tech support. He knew he had extremely valuable prototype equipment in his possession. That's like finding classified military documents and calling the public school system. I mean, it's all the same government, right? If they wanted the stuff back I'm sure the head teacher in that school would have known.

Well, you're being a little unfair. You can't just look up Apple and ask for a direct line to Steve Jobs. And the chain between a public school and a military research centre is much, much larger, and way more indirect, than trying to reach a company by calling one of their listed numbers. I think they probably did make genuine efforts, and partly because that may have endeared them to Apple, which is apparently a big deal.
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Re: Jason Chen (of Gizmodo) gets house raided, assets seized

Postby Sytri » Tue Apr 27, 2010 1:55 pm UTC

Using Niemöller was a way to get my point across but still wasnt great.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/8645884.stm

"Under both state and federal law, a search warrant may not be validly issued to confiscate the property of a journalist," ........Gawker Media said the issue now throws into question whether or not bloggers are considered journalists under the law.


The police team used for the search are apparently created for computer fraud and identitiy theft. Apple also sits on the steering committee.

Chen's house was raided by a team where the hurt party has a part of the control.

Maybe saying its a slippery slope is a bit much.

Also, where are you getting the details from that he only contacted Tech Support? We've had other stories here that the original person to find the phone tried to get it to the owner.And at what time does it become that persons property?

If he gave the phone back, what else is there to take? His notes and photos? Surely they would be covered by journalistic rights? Just my thoughts.
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Re: Jason Chen (of Gizmodo) gets house raided, assets seized

Postby J the Ninja » Tue Apr 27, 2010 2:05 pm UTC

He really didn't try too hard to get it back to the owner. He asked around the bar a little at first, to see if the owner was still there. Then he took it it home instead of leaving it with the bar staff. (PROTIP: If you find a lost wallet, phone, purse, whatever in a place like a bar or coffee shop, give it to the staff. They are used to it, it happens all the time. They almost certainly have a standard place to store such things where the item can safely await its owner's return)

Did he call the police? Nope. Did he call Apple? Well, he called the tech support number. Not Apple's regular corporate phone number (which is right on the their website). As if he thought someone at Applecare would possibly have been informed about a missing prototype in one of the most secretive companies ever. Also, since he knew it belonged to Apple, why didn't he just mail it back to them? Stick it in a padded manilla envelope, write "Apple, 1 Infinite Loop, Cupertino, CA 95014" on it, and stick it in the mail. If it doesn't make it back to the team that lost it, that's an internal problem Apple has with their mail department, not your legal mess. But he didn't do this. He started calling websites to try and sell the thing.
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Re: Jason Chen (of Gizmodo) gets house raided, assets seized

Postby Sytri » Tue Apr 27, 2010 2:22 pm UTC

OK having read through it more the person who found it tried lots of numbers apparently, not just one. What gets me is that the person who lost it didnt ring it first, just incase. He got it locked straight away instead. Possibly exaserbating things.

I now know that it infact takes 3 years before it becomes the other persons property under Cali law; but how many of you would've known that? The person waited weeks for Apple to get back in contact with him he didnt just start ringing around.

I understand a companies want to keep their new products secret but getting it back and then filing charges and getting Chen's computers and servers confiscated seems a bit over the top.
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Re: Jason Chen (of Gizmodo) gets house raided, assets seized

Postby Dream » Tue Apr 27, 2010 2:26 pm UTC

Spoiler:
Now, in practical terms, these fellows had another option. Speaking from personal experience as one who has spent a fair number of hours in bars, there is a universal protocol for dealing with misplaced or forgotten personal items left behind by fellow patrons. Wallets, keys, phones, purses. Whatever. If you see something like that on the floor, or forgotten on a table, you pick it up and hand it to the bartender. If you realize you’ve lost something, you ask the bartender. Everyone knows this.

This option arguably does not comply with the letter of California law, insofar as the bartender is not the owner and is not the police. But no one has been or ever will be prosecuted for handing a lost item to the employees of the establishment where the item was found. Effectively you’re turning the bartender into the finder of the item.

And, in this particular case, had these individuals done so, the phone would have gotten back to its rightful owner, who, in the days after losing it, called the bar repeatedly to ask whether it had been turned in. Even if it didn’t occur to the “finders” of this phone to turn it over to the bartender the night it was lost, all they had to do, at any point during the three weeks before they sold it to Gizmodo, was take it back to the bar, or just call the bar and ask whether the guy who lost it had called to claim it.

Here is the story about their purported attempt to return the phone, as reported by Jesus Diaz at Gizmodo:

During that time, he played with it. It seemed like a normal iPhone. “I thought it was just an iPhone 3GS,” he told me in a telephone interview. “It just looked like one. I tried the camera, but it crashed three times.” The iPhone didn’t seem to have any special features, just two bar codes stuck on its back: 8800601pex1 and N90_DVT_GE4X_0493. Next to the volume keys there was another sticker: iPhone SWE-L200221. Apart from that, just six pages of applications. One of them was Facebook.

From the Facebook app, they obtained the name of the Apple engineer who lost the phone.

Thinking about returning the phone the next day, he left. When he woke up after the hazy night, the phone was dead. Bricked remotely, through MobileMe, the service Apple provides to track and wipe out lost iPhones. It was only then that he realized that there was something strange that iPhone. The exterior didn’t feel right and there was a camera on the front. After tinkering with it, he managed to open the fake 3GS.

Note that you are not permitted by law to disassemble found items.

There it was, a shiny thing, completely different from everything that came before.

He reached for a phone and called a lot of Apple numbers and tried to find someone who was at least willing to transfer his call to the right person, but no luck. No one took him seriously and all he got for his troubles was a ticket number.

He thought that eventually the ticket would move up high enough and that he would receive a call back, but his phone never rang. What should he be expected to do then? Walk into an Apple store and give the shiny, new device to a 20-year-old who might just end up selling it on eBay?

Admittedly, it would be very hard to get someone on the phone at Apple who would know what a device such as this one is. Apple, like most large companies, deliberately makes it difficult for consumers to reach (non-retail) employees. There is no lost prototype hotline.

But they could have simply put the phone in a bubble wrap envelope and mailed it to 1 Infinite Loop. Apple’s mailing address is right on their web site. And they had the name of the engineer who lost the phone. It defies belief that calling Apple’s public phone numbers constitutes “reasonable and just efforts to find the owner and to restore the property to him”, as required both by law and by common sense.

Take it back to the bar. Drop it in the mail. Send a message using Facebook to the engineer who lost it. Or, why not take it to an Apple Store? That’s a circuitous route, but this bit from Gizmodo’s report:

Walk into an Apple store and give the shiny, new device to a 20-year-old who might just end up selling it on eBay?

is how thieves think — that everyone else is as dishonest as they are. Taking it to an Apple Store, asking for a manager, and handing it over would have put the phone back in Apple’s hands.

Even if you take their account at face value, it is clear the individuals who sold this unit to Gizmodo made no serious attempt to return the phone.

Thus, even if the phone originally came into their hands by being lost, once they made no “reasonable and just” effort to return it and instead began trying to sell it, it became stolen.

Consider, too, every coincidence that we’re asked to believe in this tale. What are the odds that the person who happened to be sitting next to the Apple engineer who lost such a phone would recognize it as something other than an existing consumer iPhone? It was snapped into a 3G/3GS-sized case. The screen is higher resolution, yes, but how many random people in a bar — even in Silicon Valley — would notice that? And they knew it might be worth thousands of dollars if offered to a site such as Gizmodo.

In my book, anyone who did this with a phone left on a bar stool would be just as likely to, say, take it out of someone’s jacket pocket if they noticed its unusual nature while the engineer was using it at the bar — which we know the engineer did, given that he updated his Facebook page that evening with a comment regarding the quality of the beer he was drinking. There is no reason to take anything thieves claim at face value, particularly when it’s all been filtered through Gizmodo, which has a decided interest in painting a picture where they didn’t realize they were purchasing stolen property.


This pretty much sums up my attitude here. It's from John Gruber, who is apparently a somebody, but who I'd never read until I researched this post. Fundamentally, if this guy knew he was holding something worth so much, he should have made far greater efforts than he did. If Gizmodo believed this bullshit story about attempting to return something he wanted five grand for, they're fucking stupid. They're not. They did this knowingly, and that's totally illegal. Hence the police getting involved. If there was anything in the data on the phone that Apple could legitimately claim was likely to be illegally held by Gizmodo after they sent the phone back, that's more than enough justification for the raid. If Gizmodo didn't want people to think they hadn't pulled it apart and analysed it, they probably shouldn't have published photos of themselves doing just that on their own internet site.

Sytri wrote:What gets me is that the person who lost it didnt ring it first, just incase. He got it locked straight away instead. Possibly exaserbating things.
It's the victim's fault now? Or maybe he followed Apple procedures to the letter, bricking as an absolute first priority, which following that negates the possibility of calling the phone. And anyway, the "finder" didn't even call the bar he "found" it in, so it's hardly the victim's fault he didn't get the phone back. He'd have had it the next morning if the "finder" had called the bar instead of playing with the phone.
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Re: Jason Chen (of Gizmodo) gets house raided, assets seized

Postby Sytri » Tue Apr 27, 2010 2:33 pm UTC

I'm not in anyway saying its the victims fault. Just saying if he rang it, he might have been able to get it back.

I'm just going to stop posting to this now because I've made myself look like an arse.

See you all on another thread.
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Re: Jason Chen (of Gizmodo) gets house raided, assets seized

Postby Kayangelus » Tue Apr 27, 2010 3:29 pm UTC

wst wrote:
Dream wrote:It's evil to call the cops if someone releases all your trade secrets to bump their ad revenue a bit?
2 things. 1) That's not all their trade secrets. There's a real fuckton of stuff they didn't find out. 2) It's their job to find information and do whatever they like with it. That's the whole point of journalism.

What their job is shouldn't really matter. Whatever your job is, you need to do it legally. What is illegal is illegal.

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Re: Jason Chen (of Gizmodo) gets house raided, assets seized

Postby Endless Mike » Tue Apr 27, 2010 4:00 pm UTC

Pez Dispens3r wrote:
Dream wrote:He called tech support. He knew he had extremely valuable prototype equipment in his possession. That's like finding classified military documents and calling the public school system. I mean, it's all the same government, right? If they wanted the stuff back I'm sure the head teacher in that school would have known.

Well, you're being a little unfair. You can't just look up Apple and ask for a direct line to Steve Jobs.

Sure you can.

steve@apple.com

He even replies to random people, and all evidence points to Apple knowing the phone had gone missing within a few hours of it happening since it was remotely bricked before morning even broke. I'd bet that if someone emailed "Hey Steve, I have your lost 4G iPhone please come get" along with a photo, Apple'd be at his door in no time at all.

Additionally, Chen knowingly paid for an item that didn't belong to the holder, which he's openly admitted on Gizmodo. I don't blame the police for obtaining a search warrant, however, if they did the search it outside the allowances of said warrant, they probably screwed the case. Additionally, it doesn't seem that he's being subpeonaed to reveal a source. He's being subpeonaed to discover actual proof of a monetary transaction, which is the actual crime being investigated.

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Re: Jason Chen (of Gizmodo) gets house raided, assets seized

Postby Malice » Tue Apr 27, 2010 5:51 pm UTC

Endless Mike wrote:Additionally, Chen knowingly paid for an item that didn't belong to the holder, which he's openly admitted on Gizmodo. I don't blame the police for obtaining a search warrant, however, if they did the search it outside the allowances of said warrant, they probably screwed the case. Additionally, it doesn't seem that he's being subpeonaed to reveal a source. He's being subpeonaed to discover actual proof of a monetary transaction, which is the actual crime being investigated.


The issue is that the "you can't be subpeonaed to reveal a source" thing also includes, "the police can't execute a warrant for items that would reveal a source". Since they went into his house and confiscated his work computers, which presumably have sources on them, they violated California law.
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Re: Jason Chen (of Gizmodo) gets house raided, assets seized

Postby Dream » Tue Apr 27, 2010 5:56 pm UTC

Is that true? It sounds insane, because you could plan a mass murder in your journalist notebook and refuse to hand it over as evidence. The police couldn't subpoena it because it would reveal your sources for your local fun-run fixing scoop? Surely it's specifically intended to cover times when the subpoena is intended to reveal the source, right? Which I would think isn't the case here.
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Re: Jason Chen (of Gizmodo) gets house raided, assets seized

Postby Endless Mike » Tue Apr 27, 2010 6:43 pm UTC

I have a feeling that law needs to be better interpreted. It seems absurd that a journalist's sources can't be subpeonaed when it is the journalist being accused of a crime and not the source (although I'm sure him selling stolen goods is probably similar grounds for a case). This may well lead to some interesting precedents.

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Re: Jason Chen (of Gizmodo) gets house raided, assets seized

Postby skeptical scientist » Tue Apr 27, 2010 8:13 pm UTC

Endless Mike wrote:I have a feeling that law needs to be better interpreted. It seems absurd that a journalist's sources can't be subpeonaed when it is the journalist being accused of a crime and not the source (although I'm sure him selling stolen goods is probably similar grounds for a case). This may well lead to some interesting precedents.

If he's being accused of a crime, why wasn't he (or anyone else at Gizmodo) arrested? I'm pretty sure there's no significant dispute that they bought the found iPod.
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