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Unsealed Court docs reveal Apple never investigated

updated 09:35 pm EDT, Tue September 13, 2005

Apple vs. Does

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) last week won the right to unseal court documents related to Apple's efforts to subpoena the sources of online journalists. The documents, previously sealed by the Court and unavailable to the journalists and their attorneys, show that Apple moved to subpoena the reporters' sources before conducting a thorough investigation within the company. The ruling is the latest in a series of Court battles in the Apple vs. Does over protecting the confidential sources of journalists and bloggers. Last December, Apple moved to subpoena sources from AppleInsider and The PowerPage, following the sites' publication of an unannounced audio interface, code named "Asteroid." The product never surfaced, however, Apple still claimed protection under trade secret law.

Earlier this year, the EFF was unsuccessful in a ; however, EFF said that the newest rulling would help them in their fight to protect the reporters' sources because the law requires that Apple exhaust all other sources before turning to a Court-issued subpoena for information from a journalist. After the sites printed articles about "Asteroid, Apple claimed violation of trade secret law and and moved directly to subpoena the journalists' sources.

"This is a crucial issue in the case, which will be heard by the California Court of Appeal, because the First Amendment and the California Constitution require that Apple exhaust all other alternatives before trying to subpoena journalists. The unsealed documents, filed late last week, allow the public to see that Apple failed to conduct an exhaustive investigation. It never took depositions, never issued subpoenas (other than to the journalists), and never asked for signed declarations or information under oath from its own employees."

Apple also claimed that its internal investigation was itself a trade secret and argued that it should sealed from opposing counsel; however, the EFF and co-counsel successfully argued and won a Court ruling that made the documents public. According to the documents, the only computer forensics conducted by Apple was a search of Apple's email servers and a "rudimentary examination of a single file server."

The documents also showed that Apple did not examine employees' individual work computers or other devices capable of storing or transmitting electronic information, examine any telephone records, look at copy machines, or otherwise investigate the possibility that information about 'Asteroid' was transmitted by means other than email. The EFF also notes that Apple did not even obtain sworn statements from employees who had access to the leaked "Asteroid" specs.

"The First Amendment requires that compelled disclosure from journalists be a last resort," said EFF Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl. "Apple must first investigate its own house before seeking to disturb the freedom of the press."

A California Superior Court ruled earlier this year that the subpoenas could be issued, both to the journalists' email providers as well as to the publishers of the websites themselves. After the journalists appealed, the California Court of Appeal ordered Apple to show cause as to why the journalist's petition should not be granted. No date is set yet for the hearing in the Court of Appeal.

by MacNN Staff




  1. iomatic

    Joined: Dec 1969




    I totally understand Apple's desire to clamp down on trade secrets. It's valid, even.

    But really. Isn't this a bit far? I mean c'mon already. Nobody has cared about this wee rumor anymore, but now that you brought it up, yeah, what _are_ you guys hiding. Just calm the F()CK down, Apple litigation crew!

  1. JEB

    Joined: Dec 1969


    They were protecting nano

    I'll bet they didn't want -anyone- to know in advance about iPod nano!

    Nonetheless, litigation can cause distractions from the real issues.

    I'm kinda bummed; since the days of yore, PowerPage has been a rockin' source of sound powerbook info . . . hate to see o'grady getting lambasted . . .

  1. Gabriel Morales



    Legal mumbo jumbo...

    If Apple wants to play the legal game, then kudos to the EFF for beating them!

  1. brjohn

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Doesn't make it right

    This doesn't make the so-called "journalists" bloggers/rumor sites/etc. innocent - what they did was still illegal; and them trying to hide behind protections that are for REAL journalists just makes them pathetic.

  1. Ralf_Wiggum

    Joined: Dec 1969


    It was right

    Freedom to publish what you want is not limited to print journalists. I will stick my neck out to protect bloggers, newspaper writers, and journal writers alike. Freedom should be accessible to everyone. A huge corporation trying to bully individuals is truly pathetic.

  1. shawnce

    Joined: Dec 1969


    You may want to review...

    The Uniform Trade Secrets Act that is in place in many states in the United States (granted it may not cover this case because of local).

    This law states that it is illegal to actively coerce or otherwise entice someone into leak trade secrets (verbiage on think secret could fit that aspect of the law). It also states that you are not allowed to public publish what you can reasonable know is a trade secret (it is obvious that think secret would know since that is what they traded in and having gotten letters from Apple before about it). The law also has other stipulations.

    Now you can be protected from this law by being considered a "whistle" blower but obviously think secret doesn't live up to that requirement.

  1. brjohn

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: It was right

    " Freedom to publish blah blah blah blah blah blah blah.....

    Comment posted by: Ralf_Wiggum "

    Your comment's flawed arguments are a credit to your nick.

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