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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Gizmodo Raid: Let's Recap

Our story so far:

  1. Police have raided Jason Chen's property as it may have been "used to commit a felony" according to the warrant (assumingly the purchase of stolen property).

  2. Police say nobody in particular is currently under arrest and that the warrant is solely for gathering evidence. Gawker has responded citing journalism shield laws, which the DA had previously considered and dismissed but is now pausing the investigation for review.

  3. It is not apparently a widely held question as to whether or not Jason Chen would constitute as a journalist (he does), the real heart of the question is whether he is protected in this instance as the raid pertains to gathering information for a story or does not because paying for the phone makes for probable cause of a felony.

  4. The short, short version: Journalism shield laws protect journalists from companies simply pointing a finger at them and citing a crime ... but that might not be the turn of events leading to the raid.

  5. Apple sits on the steering committee for the REACT squad responsible for the raid. Police have stated they were not involved in REACT being included and that police themselves were unaware of the time that Apple sat on the committee.

So for the time we wait a bit while the men in suits figure out who has a case. And Scott Adams is still quite hilarious.


jvm said...

Yep, I really enjoyed inFamous too, especially ... wait, this isn't the post I was expecting. :P

Josh said...

Hehe. Yeah, I keep adding one more sentence to it and then getting back to work :)

Steve said...

I'm really curious to see how this plays out. First of all, I'm wondering if the root of the investigation is really about the guy who sold the phone. That seems pretty shady to me, and the police may be trying to obtain evidence about how that all went down.

If they are going after Chen, then I'll be shocked if this doesn't end up in, at least, California's supreme court. He's clearly operating as a journalist here and I'm pretty sure there's established precedent for journalists paying for leads, etc. Furthermore you have specific shield laws in California. So the question here would hinge on whether purchasing stolen merchandise (a felony) would be kosher under that shield law.

A further question here is how much does the prosecutor want to test those waters. If they go after Chen there's the potential to give a very broad right to journalists to basically break laws for the sake of journalism. It's not like Chen broke into Apple, or mugged the poor shmuck who left the phone at the bar. So it's not as distinctly criminal as simply buying the device.

Also from Apple's perspective they have a similar quandry. If you go after Chen, you might be able to send a message to others that this sort of behavior will wreck your life, so don't do it. On the other hand, if you lose, you'd be setting the ground work for more of this in the future.

If I were Apple, I'd just review security practices and let it go for the most part. Bringing the hammer down here doesn't seem worth the trouble. Go after the guy who sold the phone for $5K, but leave Chen out of it.