Tech website Gizmodo’s Jason Chen may have scored the industry’s biggest scoop this month, with the exclusive on Apple’s next generation iPhone 4G, but nothing could have prepared him for the aftermath.
This morning we reported on rumors that the police were investigating Gizmodo’s purchase, for $5,000, of the lost iPhone. Now, Gizmodo has revealed that Chen’s home was broken into by California’s Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team last Friday. The cops, part of a task force that investigates crimes related to high-tech businesses, proceeded to seize four computers and two servers from Chen’s home.
The cops were in possession of a warrant from a San Mateo judge, but Gawker Media, the company that owns Gizmodo, claims that the cops’ warrant was invalid. Gawker argues that the search-and-seize action violates California’s journalist shield law.
In his original scoop, Chen dished the details on Apple’s upcoming phone using a prototype that the company bought from the mysterious person who found the device, which had been left behind in a bar by an Apple employee. Gizmodo then coughed up the $5,000 to get its hands on the phone–which has since been returned to Apple after the company’s lawyers formally claimed it and asked for it back.
As everyone in the tech-savvy world knows, Gizmodo scored a major media coup earlier this month when it obtained a prototype of Apple’s next-generation iPhone 4. The fancy piece of hardware had been left behind in a bar by a hapless Apple engineer (his last Facebook post before his fateful memory lapse: “I underestimated how good German beer is”), and Gizmodo paid $5,000 to the person who found the phone.
Apple officially reclaimed its phone last week, but that may not be the end of the story. Now reports have surfaced that Silicon Valley police are investigating the incident, as purchasing the lost property may have violated criminal statutes.
CNET heard it from an a law enforcement official:
Apple has spoken to local police about the incident and the investigation is believed to be headed by a computer crime task force led by the Santa Clara County district attorney’s office, the source said.