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Authorities waiting to analyze data seized in iPhone prototype case

post #1 of 182
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California authorities are waiting to determine whether a Gizmodo editor who dished photos and details of Apple's fourth-generation iPhone prototype is protected as a journalist under state laws before searching the data present on equipment that was seized from his home.

According to the San Jose Business Journal, investigators have identified and interviewed the person who took the phone from the Gourmet Haus Staudt on March 18 after it was left by an Apple engineer who was at the local watering hole to celebrate his birthday.

However, state officials were unable to confirm to the publication whether that person was the same individual who eventually sold the device to gadget blog Gizmodo for $5,000. Although no one has been charged with a crime in matter as of yet, a search warrant was issued late last week authorizing California's Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team to search the home of Gizmodo editor Jason Chen.

Were still not saying its a crime, San Mateo County Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe told the Journal The investigation has contacted as many segments of the people involved in this situation, including the person who took the phone from the German restaurant. The police know who he is and they have talked to him.

During the search of Chen's home, members of California's Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team seized a MacBook, MacBook Pro, 32GB iPad, 16GB iPhone, an AirPort Extreme, IBM ThinkPad, a Dell desktop, external hard drives, and other items.

In response, Gizmodo invoked the California shield law, which protects journalists from having to turn over anonymous sources or unpublished material to law enforcement. As such, Wagstaffe said Chens computers, hard drives and servers would remain untouched until investigators determine whether he is indeed protected by the law.



I told (Gizmodo) we will hold off and not do any investigation into the computer itself while we resolve this issue, he said, adding that if attorneys 'come to the conclusion that Chen is not protected, Gizmodo may seek an injunction preventing investigators from moving forward and examining the computers.'

Wagstaffe also revealed that outside counsel for Apple, along with the Apple engineer who lost the iPhone, asked authorities to launch the ongoing investigation when they called the District Attorneys office last week to report the theft of the iPhone prototype.
post #2 of 182
It's only fair if the face book profile of the guy who took the phone, is revealed. If he just gets a silent slap on the wrist the story is incomplete.

PS At least a month in jail would also be in order to deter future attempts to do the same.
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post #3 of 182
This is getting good. I am sitting back with my popcorn and beer enjoying the fireworks.

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post #4 of 182
The police are clearly doing things by the book - to prepare for an appeal. But it's too late - Gizmodo's in big trouble.

Gizmodo's only defense is that they were acting as a journalist and are now protecting their source. Since the police already know who took the phone and have interviewed him, Gizmodo is no longer protecting anyone. Not that it mattered - they publicly admitted to having committed a couple of felonies. There's plenty of evidence to convict them of that alone.

I'll go on record as saying that the story Gizmodo told was not true. Gizmodo and the guy who took the phone had some kind of formal or informal arrangement for the phone to be taken and Gizmodo would use their 'journalism veil' to cover it up. That's really the only thing that fits all the facts.
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post #5 of 182
1. The "seller" obviously knew the name of Gray Powell and that he worked for Apple as an engineer.

2. He knew this information and also provided the information to Gizmodo.

3. Gizmodo published his name, age, title and company he worked for.

4. The "seller" obviously knew who the owner was and did not return the property.

5. Under california law this is considered a theft because the "seller" profited from the property.

6. Gizmodo ALSO knew the owner of the phone and profited from it (web site traffic) without contacting the owner for it to be returned. This is also against CA law.

7. Both the "seller" and Gizmodo are responsible for theft under CA law. Gizmodo probably as an accessory.

This is about as open and shut as you can get. Even if Gizmodo is protected, the cops know the "seller" already and they will go after him for sure. Apple will see to it that Gawker spends millions of dollars fighting this (drop in the bucket for Apple) which will no doubt hurt them.
post #6 of 182
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

I'll go on record as saying that the story Gizmodo told was not true. Gizmodo and the guy who took the phone had some kind of formal or informal arrangement for the phone to be taken and Gizmodo would use their 'journalism veil' to cover it up. That's really the only thing that fits all the facts.

Doubtful. I think Josh Topolsky of Engadget refused to purchase the phone after the seller initially approached Engadget. Smart move by Josh.
post #7 of 182
Quote:
Originally Posted by sheff View Post

It's only fair if the face book profile of the guy who took the phone, is revealed. If he just gets a silent slap on the wrist the story is incomplete.

PS At least a month in jail would also be in order to deter future attempts to do the same.

This will come out soon enough. Do his one month in jail and then make millions in interviews, book deals and movie rights.
post #8 of 182
Shouldn't they have worked out this journalist issue before doing the seizure? Seems fishy to seize equipment to risk finding they cannot do anything with it but return it. A bungled investigation would feed right into Gawker's M.O.

But anyways, I'm currently thinking that the Gizmodo story about the provenance of the device is probably a cover.
post #9 of 182
Quote:
Originally Posted by blur35mm View Post

Doubtful. I think Josh Topolsky of Engadget refused to purchase the phone after the seller initially approached Engadget. Smart move by Josh.

Wired also claimed they received an email offer to buy it on March 28th. This guy was definitely shopping around. He spent more effort looking for the highest bidder than trying to return it to Apple.
post #10 of 182
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

I told (Gizmodo) we will hold off and not do any investigation into the computer itself while we resolve this issue, he said, adding that if attorneys 'come to the conclusion that Chen is not protected, Gizmodo may seek an injunction preventing investigators from moving forward and examining the computers.

"We are waiting to see if it's protected and if it's not we're gonna wait some more."

WTF?

If it's not protected, what would Gizmodo use as a basis for their injunction?
post #11 of 182
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

Shouldn't they have worked out this journalist issue before doing the seizure? Seems fishy to seize equipment to risk finding they cannot do anything with it but return it. A bungled investigation would feed right into Gawker's M.O.

But anyways, I'm currently thinking that the Gizmodo story about the provenance of the device is probably a cover.

No, because Chen might have found out or anticipated the seizure and destroyed evidence.
post #12 of 182
Why would they take an AirPort Extreme?
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post #13 of 182
Quote:
Originally Posted by quinney View Post

No, because Chen might have found out or anticipated the seizure and destroyed evidence.

That would be a smart move, but I think that the guys in Gizmodo think that they have the law on their side, and may have even kept the evidence to try to prove they acted as proper journalists.
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post #14 of 182
Quote:
Originally Posted by sheff View Post

That would be a smart move, but I think that the guys in Gizmodo think that they have the law on their side, and may have even kept the evidence to try to prove they acted as proper journalists.

Yes, Psystaresque hubris on their part.
post #15 of 182
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Why would they take an AirPort Extreme?

Clearly the training they received from the steering committee was inadequate.
post #16 of 182
Quote:
Originally Posted by quinney View Post

Clearly the training they received from the steering committee was inadequate.

They also took his electric toothbrush, his CD collection, some jewelry, his dog, a rug, art, and his girlfriend...
post #17 of 182
Quote:
Originally Posted by jragosta View Post

The police are clearly doing things by the book - to prepare for an appeal. But it's too late - Gizmodo's in big trouble.


Quote:
Wagstaffe said Chens computers, hard drives and servers would remain untouched until investigators determine whether he is indeed protected by the law.

Huh!?!?! By what book??! The book that says go ahead and execute a search warrant FIRST and THEN figure out if it was LEGAL for them to actually do it?!?!

If I were to 'perform a questionably legal act' FIRST and THEN tried to determine if it was actually legal I would not be able to talk my way out of the situation like the Wagstaffe seems to have no problem getting away with.

Quote:
And in other news San Mateo County police have shot and killed 5 suspected murders... We are now in the process of determining if they actually murdered people. We will keep the media posted as we learn more...

By the book... that's a good one!
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post #18 of 182
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

Shouldn't they have worked out this journalist issue before doing the seizure? Seems fishy to seize equipment to risk finding they cannot do anything with it but return it. A bungled investigation would feed right into Gawker's M.O.

But anyways, I'm currently thinking that the Gizmodo story about the provenance of the device is probably a cover.

Remember when the law in Florida seized Rush Limbaugh's medical records? I don't think they ever got to actually use them and had to return them after a lengthy legal fight. It happens, but it is in a way better then waiting and letting evidence get concealed or destroyed. Truly the only thing harmed for sure is Jason's door.

To clarify, I mean that if the prosecutor that asked for and judge that issued the warrant thought that shield law would not apply but Gizmodo plans to argue it does then holding off on examining the evidence is a good idea. But that does not mean that the warrant was not issued and executed in good faith.
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post #19 of 182
Quote:
Originally Posted by quinney View Post

Clearly the training they received from the steering committee was inadequate.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rain View Post

They also took his electric toothbrush, his CD collection, some jewelry, his dog, a rug, art, and his girlfriend...

at both of you.
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post #20 of 182
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Why would they take an AirPort Extreme?

Forensic evidense? History of websites visited perhaps?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rain View Post

They also took his electric toothbrush, his CD collection, some jewelry, his dog, a rug, art, and his girlfriend...

After seeing pictures of him I suspect it was more that the time he paid for was cut short when she saw cops in his house.

Just kidding.
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post #21 of 182
None of us know how this will ultimately play out. But I don't think it's wise for any group to be told that it's above the law. Once that happens, then unethical people will try and don the mask of that group and believe they can do anything they want, indulge in any malice that comes to mind, with the smug knowledge that no one can stop them.
post #22 of 182
Quote:
Originally Posted by quinney View Post

No, because Chen might have found out or anticipated the seizure and destroyed evidence.

I suppose that makes sense, I suppose a ruling from the AG might not be available as quickly as it would need to get everything first.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigdaddyp View Post

Forensic evidense? History of websites visited perhaps?

It might have a DNS look-up table, other than that, I don't know what it could store. Consumer routers generally aren't that smart.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronbo View Post

None of us know how this will ultimately play out. But I don't think it's wise for any group to be told that it's above the law. Once that happens, then unethical people will try and don the mask of that group and believe they can do anything they want, indulge in any malice that comes to mind, with the smug knowledge that no one can stop them.

For the most part, I don't think shield laws are that lax.
post #23 of 182
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

Shouldn't they have worked out this journalist issue before doing the seizure? Seems fishy to seize equipment to risk finding they cannot do anything with it but return it. A bungled investigation would feed right into Gawker's M.O.

But anyways, I'm currently thinking that the Gizmodo story about the provenance of the device is probably a cover.

Hmmmm, I'm thinking that denying Chen the ability to wipe up after himself isn't such a bad idea before weighing the journalist issue. If anyone at Gizmodo had gotten wind of the investigation before the property was seized, how would the Police even know what property was present at Chen's house before the investigation started.
post #24 of 182
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris_CA View Post

"We are waiting to see if it's protected and if it's not we're gonna wait some more."

WTF?

If it's not protected, what would Gizmodo use as a basis for their injunction?

With lawyers, everything is debatable until a judge rules, finally.
post #25 of 182
Quote:
Originally Posted by rain View Post

They also took his electric toothbrush, his CD collection, some jewelry, his dog, a rug, art, and his girlfriend...

And taking the girlfriend was a GOOD THING since he came home from dinner with his WIFE!
post #26 of 182
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

Shouldn't they have worked out this journalist issue before doing the seizure? Seems fishy to seize equipment to risk finding they cannot do anything with it but return it. A bungled investigation would feed right into Gawker's M.O.

But anyways, I'm currently thinking that the Gizmodo story about the provenance of the device is probably a cover.

Good points. Moreover, it seems somewhat silly, and a tad unfair -- if ultimately shown that Chen is a 'journalist' -- that the wares that make his livelihood (not just what he types on, but his files, past data, references, sources, notes of work-in-progress, etc) are being sequestered until this is all legally sorted out.

I think the police pulled the trigger first and decided to ask questions later. Not a good move.

I predict that the courts will throw this out.
post #27 of 182
Quote:
Originally Posted by JeffDM View Post

It might have a DNS look-up table, other than that, I don't know what it could store. Consumer routers generally aren't that smart.

I wouldn't claim to know what is stored in the router and god help me if the wife figured out how to look that up.

They probably take anything remotely related to what would have been used to or may have evidence of the crime that was within the scope of the warrant. Instead of kill em all and let god sort it out, in this case, it's more along the lines of seize it all and let the techs sort it out.
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post #28 of 182
Quote:
Originally Posted by bigdaddyp View Post


After seeing pictures of him I suspect it was more that the time he paid for was cut short when she saw cops in his house.

Just kidding.

No, you're not. People that say that are rarely kidding.
post #29 of 182
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Why would they take an AirPort Extreme?

Probably the cops didn't know what it was or thought it was a time capsule.
post #30 of 182
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

No, you're not. People that say that are rarely kidding.

I honestly do not believe that he bought or paid for a girlfriend. As it has already been noted that he came home with his wife.
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post #31 of 182
Quote:
Originally Posted by blur35mm View Post

Doubtful. I think Josh Topolsky of Engadget refused to purchase the phone after the seller initially approached Engadget. Smart move by Josh.

He's probably had to identify the seller of the phone to authorities. Poor guy will probably end up in court to testify when the case goes to trial. At least he was wise enough to not buy the phone though.
post #32 of 182
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

No, you're not. People that say that are rarely kidding.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bigdaddyp View Post

I honestly do not believe that he bought or paid for a girlfriend. As it has already been noted that he came home with his wife.

Rarely != Never

(clinically proven by the two statements above)
post #33 of 182
regardless of what the investigation and the law say, jason chen is no journalist.
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post #34 of 182
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pooch View Post

regardless of what the investigation and the law say, jason chen is no journalist.

Well I'm glad that you are here to give us the final word on what does and does not constitute journalism.
post #35 of 182
Quote:
Originally Posted by anantksundaram View Post

I think the police pulled the trigger first and decided to ask questions later. Not a good move.

I predict that the courts will throw this out.

I think we are looking at this with a narrow view. The police probably have proceedures that they follow. I suspect that it is only logical that if there is potential evidence in a suspect's custody, it must be seized as soon as possible. If their are legal questions*, they can be sorted out after the evidence is secure. To look at this one case and say "well, they should have waited because he (Chen) can be trusted not to destroy or hide evidence" is just naïve.
If there are tricky legal issues to settle, waiting weeks, months or even years for lawyers to hash it out would be stupid

*by "legal questions" I don't mean questions about the seizing itself, but questions about the admissability of the evidence gained from the seizure
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post #36 of 182
Quote:
Originally Posted by infinitespecter View Post

Well I'm glad that you are here to give us the final word on what does and does not constitute journalism.

you are welcome.
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post #37 of 182
Hey I have several blogs, does that make me a journalist too?
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post #38 of 182
Quote:
Originally Posted by solipsism View Post

Why would they take an AirPort Extreme?

... it was connected to the big, silver, shiny cheese-grater is my guess
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post #39 of 182
Quote:
Originally Posted by quinney View Post

Jason "Pongo" Chen can always fall back to his previous gig.

His new gig will be Bubba's new b**ch down at the Fed Pen...
post #40 of 182
I still think that if they had not taken the phone apart and published pictures of the phones internals and not required the letter from Apple and simply returned it when asked then this may have been avoided. I do not have any legal training or experience in law but logically it seems to me that those pictures of the inside of the phone was the precise moment the shot themselves in the foot. And smugly posting on the web every little detail certainly provided direction for the police to investigate. \

I realize that this has been and will continue to talked about endlessly but wanted to share my own worthless legal opinion.
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