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Investigators in lost iPhone 4 prototype case expected to report findings soon

post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 
A government probe into the high-profile case of an iPhone 4 prototype that was purchased by a gadget blog after it went missing from Apple last spring is on the verge of bearing its fruits, according to a published report.

Seeking an update on the case, CNet on Thursday contacted Stephen Wagstaffe, district attorney for the county of San Mateo, Calif., who told the publication that he believes the investigation could conclude as early as next month, as investigators are close to finishing their interviews before presenting him with their findings.

The investigation dates back nearly a year to last April when Robert Gray Powell, a 27-year old Apple employee working on the then unreleased iPhone 4's baseband, accidentally left an unmarked prototype of the handset at a German beer garden in Redwood City, Calif. while he was out celebrating his birthday.

Brian Hogan, a 22-year-old student, subsequently found the prototype and sold it to Gawker Media's Gizmodo for $5,000 with the help of 27-year old University of California at Berkeley student Sage Robert Wallower, who reportedly acted as a fence.

Within days, Gizmodo had published photographs and videos of the device to its website, along with a teardown of the hardware, pieces of which were subsequently picked up by the national media and broadcast on network television news stations.



Almost immediately, Apple began pressuring local authorities to open an investigation into the matter, alleging that the prototype was so valuable -- since the product had not yet been introduced to the public -- that no price tag could be placed on it. At the same time, Apple chief executive Steve Jobs personally contacted Gizmodo editor Brian Lam via e-mail, requesting he return the device.

Thus far, no charges have been filed in the case, which is officially "a felony theft investigation." At issue is whether an actual crime took place and who should be held accountable should investigators determine that laws were broken.

For his part, Jobs has raised the possibility that the device may have actually been stolen from Powell at the bar, rather than just discovered after having been left behind.

"There's an ongoing investigation," Jobs told the Wall Street Journal's Walt Mossberg during last June's All Things D conference. "I can tell you what I do know, though. To make a product you need to test it. You have to carry them outside. One of our employees was carrying one. There's a debate about whether he left it in a bar, or it was stolen out of his bag."



"The person who found it tried to sell it, they called Engadget, they called Gizmodo," he continued. "The person who took the phone plugged it into his roommates computer. [...] And this guy was trying to destroy evidence, and his roommate called the police."

"So this is a story that's amazing: it's got theft, it's got buying stolen property, it's got extortion, I'm sure there's some sex in there," Jobs quipped. "The whole thing is very colorful. The DA is looking into it, and to my knowledge they have someone making sure they only see stuff that relates to this case. I don't know how it will end up."

For their part, prosectors have maintained that media organizations like Gizmodo can not expect to be immune from criminal laws if they commit crimes. As such, they obtained a warrant to search the home of Jason Chen, one of the publication's editors, and proceeded to break down his door and seized four computers, two servers, and an assortment of other electronics in late April of 2010.

But as CNet points out, allegations raised by the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and other advocacy groups may serve to complicate matters with their claims that police violated the federal Privacy Protection Act, which broadly immunizes news organizations from searches--unless the journalists themselves committed the crime.

In addition, California law may provide protections to writers for newspapers, magazines, and "other periodical publications," the report adds, which is a term that a state court has applied to an Apple online publication before: AppleInsider.
post #2 of 39
I don't think that Gizmodo should be covered under any journalism protection laws. What they did is purchase stolen goods and they fully well knew what they were doing. And then they went on to publish and leak the highly classified secrets of a new product from a billion dollar company. I'm with Apple on this one.
post #3 of 39
Man, these guys are fast.
post #4 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

I don't think that Gizmodo should be covered under any journalism protection laws. What they did is purchase stolen goods and they fully well knew what they were doing. And then they went on to publish and leak the highly classified secrets of a new product from a billion dollar company. I'm with Apple on this one.

I'm pretty sure that shield laws don't immunize from extortion.
post #5 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

I'm pretty sure that shield laws don't immunize from extortion.

It would shield them from publishing information about the phone, though.
post #6 of 39
I'm sure whatever the outcome, it will be fascinating to hear and might even further expose the story behind it. Sure thing extortion and definitely, sex was involved.
post #7 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nobodyy View Post

It would shield them from publishing information about the phone, though.

That's the least of their potential problems.
post #8 of 39
Apple is gonna bring down the hammer on these guys.
post #9 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

I don't think that Gizmodo should be covered under any journalism protection laws. What they did is purchase stolen goods and they fully well knew what they were doing. And then they went on to publish and leak the highly classified secrets of a new product from a billion dollar company. I'm with Apple on this one.

Well said. I completely agree with you.

Even if the journalism part is protected (which it shouldn't be, in my opinion, since that prototype was confidential), Gizmodo shouldn't be protected from laws regarding the purchase of a stolen object.
post #10 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

I'm pretty sure that shield laws don't immunize from extortion.

Correct. Shield laws would have protected them if they had said 'a source' gave them the photos etc. they couldn't be forced to name the source. That was their mistake. Bragging they themselves had it.

But nothing protects anyone for criminal activity, which under Cali law they are very possibly guilty of, as is Hogan. Because in Cali if you find something and don't make a genuine effort to return it you stole it. Which, it could be argued is exactly what Hogan did when he took the phone home instead of handing it over to the staff. That he thought he was just getting a free phone not a prototype doesn't matter. It doesn't help that he knew the guys Facebook, employment etc.

And Giz admitting they paid and that much was not a good move.

That said, I suspect they will get a hand slap, maybe small fine with some probation and a lifetime ban from all Apple events and review unit lists.

A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

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post #11 of 39
A little slap and a spank will be needed to straight things up..
post #12 of 39
If it was phone 7 you guys would be crying Stalinism... it's a shame that anyone would get behind corporate interests to this extent. Why not make it a crime to view the photos? I mean we all knew what it was... You kids, you'll get us another Patriot Act if you're not careful.
post #13 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by autism109201 View Post

Well said. I completely agree with you.

Even if the journalism part is protected (which it shouldn't be, in my opinion, since that prototype was confidential), Gizmodo shouldn't be protected from laws regarding the purchase of a stolen object.

National secrets aren't protected why should a cell phone be?
"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example" Mark Twain
"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
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"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example" Mark Twain
"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
Reply
post #14 of 39
Just another disgusting day in America.
post #15 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whozown View Post

Apple is gonna bring down the hammer on these guys.

Which is exactly the problem. Apple, as a corporation, should not own the local law enforcement and be able to come down on anyone for anything in a potential criminal case.

If anyone faces charges it should be Hogan. I doubt Gizmodo will be charged.
post #16 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeanSolecki View Post

If it was phone 7 you guys would be crying Stalinism...

A lot of people made fun of this engineer for his stupidity/carelessness. It would be the same if it were MSFT. People would certainly be ripping the company as well, but there are a lot of fair-minded people who would react similarly.

Quote:
it's a shame that anyone would get behind corporate interests to this extent.

Really? Fanboyism aside, note that a lot of us own AAPL. If the company loses a competitive edge and the stock underperforms, our portfolios also underperform.

Quote:
Why not make it a crime to view the photos? I mean we all knew what it was... You kids, you'll get us another Patriot Act if you're not careful.

Theft and selling/receiving stolen goods have been illegal long before the Patriot Act was ever conceived. They are not the same - even in principle, but you already knew that.
post #17 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by AIaddict View Post

Which is exactly the problem. Apple, as a corporation, should not own the local law enforcement and be able to come down on anyone for anything in a potential criminal case.

If anyone faces charges it should be Hogan. I doubt Gizmodo will be charged.

What? A number with a name attached to it shouldn't have more value, rights and power then human life?
That kinda talk will get you labeled around here.
post #18 of 39
I thought Jason Chen was already executed for his horrible crime. Now I just learned he might be just still under arrest eating the taxpayer money. At least hope they transferred him to Guantanamo, good that Obama was just joking when he said he would close it down soon.
post #19 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mode View Post

What? A number with a name attached to it shouldn't have more value, rights and power then human life?
That kinda talk will get you labeled around here.

A new iPhone is more important than certain humans, especially criminals. Maybe their parents should have raised them better.
post #20 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by BigBillyGoatGruff View Post

A lot of people made fun of this engineer for his stupidity/carelessness. It would be the same if it were MSFT. People would certainly be ripping the company as well, but there are a lot of fair-minded people who would react similarly.



Really? Fanboyism aside, note that a lot of us own AAPL. If the company loses a competitive edge and the stock underperforms, our portfolios also underperform.



Theft and selling/receiving stolen goods have been illegal long before the Patriot Act was ever conceived. They are not the same - even in principle, but you already knew that.

The fact that you also have a vested interest doesn't mean that it justifies what could be called socially irresponsible endorsement of oppression. (this is a strong word, but set aside hyperbolic sentimentalities and I think you could understand what I'm reaching for; I'm not talking of fascism). If anything it means you're in the same position of bias. If one day a company that I hold stock in violates your "rights" I guess I will owe you the same apathy, and I assure you it isn't as uncommon as you may think.

It wasn't the theft of the hardware that was the concern. It was the theft of the information.. In that respect you and I consuming that information on a rumor site would be receiving that stolen information just a step or two down the line. We should all have our hands cut off.
post #21 of 39
Everyone involved will get Probation. And what they really need is a little a**-pounding jail time so 1. they won't do it again and 2. Others will think twice about doing it in the future.

BTW that's also what is needed for the Wall Street so-called white collar crimes, too!

Best
post #22 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

A new iPhone is more important than certain humans, especially criminals. Maybe their parents should have raised them better.

Well, if we have learned anything from all this... if you happen upon an iPhone laying around, better run screaming in the other direction with your hands in the air - or Apple can order your destruction.

Police forces being turned into corporate brute squads is disturbing - no matter how much stock you own.
post #23 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeanSolecki View Post

The fact that you also have a vested interest doesn't mean that it justifies what could be called socially irresponsible endorsement of oppression. (this is a strong word, but set aside hyperbolic sentimentalities and I think you could understand what I'm reaching for; I'm not talking of fascism). If anything it means you're in the same position of bias. If one day a company that I hold stock in violates your "rights" I guess I will owe you the same apathy, and I assure you it isn't as uncommon as you may think.

It wasn't the theft of the hardware that was the concern. It was the theft of the information.. In that respect you and I consuming that information on a rumor site would be receiving that stolen information just a step or two down the line. We should all have our hands cut off.

So crime is ok as long as it directed at these 'corporations'? Theft of information is different than physical property? Seems like you want to commiserate with the criminal element here and are "reaching" for a legal / ethical argument to support some wishy washy conspiracy nonsense. Good luck with that, maybe some honesty would be a better approach and just admit you sympathize with criminals as long as it fits into your narrative about 'evil corporations' and 'oppression'.

For the record, Apple didn't violate anybody's rights, some idiot stole a phone, sold it and went viral about it. If that's not enough to get your dumb ass arrested, what's the threshold? I'd advise you that the minute someone calls asking for their phone, car, NFL playbook, etc. back, you comply, because the next call is to the police and they won't play fantasy ideological games with you.
post #24 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by christopher126 View Post

Everyone involved will get Probation. And what they really need is a little a**-pounding jail time so 1. they won't do it again and 2. Others will think twice about doing it in the future.

BTW that's also what is needed for the Wall Street so-called white collar crimes, too!

Best

Isn't that why Maddoff is in jail? Or do we just start putting everyone in jail on Wall Street?

I think a little ass pounding time is needed for several AI posters too, the acute problem is when they don't get said time, they come here to whine about Wall Street, Apple, etc.
post #25 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by kilimanjaro View Post

A little slap and a spank will be needed to straight things up..

Maybe that is where the sex comes in...
OMG here we go again...
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OMG here we go again...
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post #26 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post

National secrets aren't protected why should a cell phone be?

The verdict is not out yet on that one either.
post #27 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by oxygenhose View Post

Isn't that why Maddoff is in jail? Or do we just start putting everyone in jail on Wall Street?

I think a little ass pounding time is needed for several AI posters too, the acute problem is when they don't get said time, they come here to whine about Wall Street, Apple, etc.

Speaking of IP theft and Wall Street, I see where that computer programmer from Goldman Sachs was sentenced to eight years in prison for his theft of code for automated trading algorithms. I have to wonder if that is making the iPhone thieves nervous at all.
post #28 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by oxygenhose View Post

So crime is ok as long as it directed at these 'corporations'? Theft of information is different than physical property? Seems like you want to commiserate with the criminal element here and are "reaching" for a legal / ethical argument to support some wishy washy conspiracy nonsense. Good luck with that, maybe some honesty would be a better approach and just admit you sympathize with criminals as long as it fits into your narrative about 'evil corporations' and 'oppression'.

For the record, Apple didn't violate anybody's rights, some idiot stole a phone, sold it and went viral about it. If that's not enough to get your dumb ass arrested, what's the threshold? I'd advise you that the minute someone calls asking for their phone, car, NFL playbook, etc. back, you comply, because the next call is to the police and they won't play fantasy ideological games with you.

If there were a shred of legal precedent to stand on perhaps something of what you've said would have relevance here. Since no charges have been brought against anyone it seems that your fanatical conception of "crime/criminals/theft" is without context. This isn't an issue of ethics, kiddo, law is a discernible state of practices/writings/behaviors that are not in any way correlated with your "lay down and take it" ideology, which isn't unique to you, sadly. If, however, your "lay down and take it" ideology were allowed to take shape in terms of those previously mentioned capacities you might be singing a different tune. Luckily, enough people on this forum and elsewhere are skeptical enough of your "evil corporations" (because they're just doing it for the starving children, right sport?) that there isn't much reason to fear just yet. Stay complacent, cowboy.
post #29 of 39
Prosecute the lowlifes at Gizmodo and shut down the whole useless Gawkerverse.

AppleZilla has spoken.
post #30 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by oxygenhose View Post

Isn't that why Maddoff is in jail? Or do we just start putting everyone in jail on Wall Street?

I think a little ass pounding time is needed for several AI posters too, the acute problem is when they don't get said time, they come here to whine about Wall Street, Apple, etc.

Madoff is a "distraction" at $50 billion. I'm talking $6-$10 trillion that these bozos have stolen from people and have gotten away with it. They may very well have ruined the greatest country on the planet with their greed.

The top 400 wage earners in this country made more money last year than the bottom 150 million combined. The Corporate Tax rate is 34% and yet GE paid 14% last year and Carnival paid 1%.

But go ahead and keep thinking what you are thinking, dude!
post #31 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleZilla View Post

Prosecute the lowlifes at Gizmodo and shut down the whole useless Gawkerverse.

AppleZilla has spoken.

Well, Giz has been shut out of Apple press events since this happened so that's some form of punishment. Not enough, mind you, but still...
post #32 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by AIaddict View Post

Which is exactly the problem. Apple, as a corporation, should not own the local law enforcement and be able to come down on anyone for anything in a potential criminal case.

And who says they do?

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
Reply
post #33 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by oxygenhose View Post

So crime is ok as long as it directed at these 'corporations'? Theft of information is different than physical property? Seems like you want to commiserate with the criminal element here and are "reaching" for a legal / ethical argument to support some wishy washy conspiracy nonsense. Good luck with that, maybe some honesty would be a better approach and just admit you sympathize with criminals as long as it fits into your narrative about 'evil corporations' and 'oppression'.

For the record, Apple didn't violate anybody's rights, some idiot stole a phone, sold it and went viral about it. If that's not enough to get your dumb ass arrested, what's the threshold? I'd advise you that the minute someone calls asking for their phone, car, NFL playbook, etc. back, you comply, because the next call is to the police and they won't play fantasy ideological games with you.

Well said.
Blindness is a condition as well as a state of mind.

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Blindness is a condition as well as a state of mind.

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post #34 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

I don't think that Gizmodo should be covered under any journalism protection laws. What they did is purchase stolen goods and they fully well knew what they were doing.

And this based on what? You have inside knowledge of the case, don't you?
post #35 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by DeanSolecki View Post

If there were a shred of legal precedent to stand on perhaps something of what you've said would have relevance here. Since no charges have been brought against anyone it seems that your fanatical conception of "crime/criminals/theft" is without context. This isn't an issue of ethics, kiddo, law is a discernible state of practices/writings/behaviors ...

I presume that you're a licensed attorney in California. If not, how are you so certain about what the law in California is or is not?
post #36 of 39
Another case of wasting tax payer money with this stupid, ongoing investigation. The only ones making money on this are the lawyers (the bottom of the bottom suckers!).

Isn't this ancient news????
Does anybody really care, anymore????
Time to get on with life!!!!!!
post #37 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by emulator View Post

And this based on what? You have inside knowledge of the case, don't you?

Actually everything you need to know was published on Gizmodo's site. They admitted to paying for the iPhone prototype. They admitted that they got the phone from someone who was NOT the original owner. (Just to be clear..."finders keepers, losers weepers" is not a legal defense, if you find something its not yours to keep...that IS in the law). Once they got the prototype they took it apart, photographed it, then contacted Apple about returning it. They also tried to use the return of iPhone to coerce Apple into giving Gizmodo preferential treatment for news releases. ALL of this was clearly published on Gizmodo.
post #38 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by gslusher View Post

I presume that you're a licensed attorney in California. If not, how are you so certain about what the law in California is or is not?

If Apple stated that they were intent on bringing charges against all responsible parties, publicity be damned, yet no charges have been brought against said parties, deductive reasoning would have it that either Apple's legal department failed at uncovering the legal precedent which existed or that precedent wasn't in existence. Which do you suppose it might be?

FWIW, legality is only a context. That context can be altered by conflicting/clarifying additions and that's essentially what landmark trials are; a recontextualization of norms based on alternative interpretations. It doesn't look like that is about to happen here, and that is the only good part of any of this.

I am not an attorney, CEO, journalist, or petty thief, for the record.
post #39 of 39
So when's the movie coming out? Seth Rogen will probably be involved, he seems to be in everything recently. By recently I mean six months ago, I've stopped watching movies since then for the most part because they're so lousy nowadays.
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