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EFF criticizes police conduct in Gizmodo raid

updated 09:35 pm EDT, Mon April 26, 2010

Foundation cites journalists rights in CA

The Electronic Frontier Foundation has criticized California's Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team for raiding the home of Gizmodo editor Jason Chen. Police last week served a search warrant at the residence, seizing Chen's computers and documents as part of an investigation into the saga surrounding the leaked iPhone prototype.

EFF civil liberties director Jennifer Granick argues that the warrant may violate certain protections afforded to Chen as a journalist, according to a Wired report. Granick claims that federal law prohibits the government from seizing materials that are used by journalists for the purpose of communicating to the public, even if the individual committed a crime.

Journalists are not entirely immune to legal scrutiny, although investigators must first obtain a subpoena to give time to challenge the request. The regulations have been put in place to protect against forcing journalists to disclose sources or sensitive information.

"California law is crystal clear that bloggers are journalists, too," Granick said.

The REACT team reportedly seized four computers, two servers, an iPhone, digital cameras and banking account records. Ironically, the task force also took an e-mail printout from a Gawker associate who wrote to Chen about the Californian shield law and protection against warrants served on journalists.

Granick also suggests that REACT utilized a warrant that was overly broad, enabling officers to seize all of Chen's hardware instead of materials determined to be directly related to the iPhone investigation.

by MacNN Staff




  1. ZinkDifferent

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Absolutely... problem with this.

    The raid, that is, not the EFF's whiny stance.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. QualleyIV

    Joined: Dec 1969


    In other news...

    the EFF is a bunch of douchebags.

    Comment buried. Show
  1. ilovestevejobs

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Apple fanboys are

    bunch of douchebags.

  1. rvhernandez

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Are journalist's computers with kiddy p*** immune from legal action? Nope.

    Giz was plain stupid in this case and now they're paying for it. They knew it belonged to Apple, and they knew the circumstances that the bar patron acquired the device to be shaky at best. Why didn't Giz contact Apple before they bought the device? Why didn't they assist the bar patron with his "effort" to return it?

    Heck, if it was me I would have driven it over to 1 Infinite Loop and handed it to the receptionist at the main front desk.

    I guess that was more difficult than contacting Giz and getting $5,000.

    Don't do the crime if you can't do the time.

  1. inspectorgadget

    Joined: Dec 1969


    That's SOP for REACT

    For any suspected criminal activity that even remotely might involve a high tech piece of hardware, whether it's a set of servers and LAN or a smart phone, REACT and it's associated 'high tech' investigators write up a search warrant affidavit in its scariest form, find a judge with a rubber stamp and confiscate the entire system. Then they'll slowly sift through the material, taking months in some cases, create their encase portfolio, then let the prosecution proceed. Meanwhile the 'suspect' is dead in the water as far as the tools he needs to make a living. Someone should go by the court clerk's office in San Mateo County and get a copy of the affidavit in support of the search warrant. It'd be interesting to see whose Apple fingerprints are on it. The affidavit's a public document and is supposed to be filed within 72 hours of execution. They rarely are.

  1. James Katt

    Joined: Dec 1969


    The Police are Right...

    The analogy is this:
    1. A journalist commits MURDER with the help of accomplices.

    2. The journalist writes about the murder for a website that has millions of readers. The journalist even goes so far as to post photos of the dead victim, slicing open the victim so you can see the entrails.

    3. The police are notified about the crime.

    4. The police obtain a search warrant to search and seize the journalists home and to seize the computer equipment for evidence regarding the crime.

    I don't think anyone in his or her right mind is going to complain about the police action. They want evidence and a trial.

    Sorry, but the EFF is wrong.

    The Journalist had the first amendment right to publish his article.

    But the journalist does not have the right to commit a crime.

    Like the Miranda warning, the article can be used against him in a court of law. The article was a confession to the crime.

    In the case of Gizmodo, the crimes are:

    1. Grand Theft (that iPhone prototype is worth millions of dollars - more than the $5,000 they paid).

    2. Breaking California's Trade Secrets law.

    Gizmodo stupidly failed to:
    1. return the iPhone prototype upon receipt.
    2. paid $5,000 for it.
    3. took the iPhone prototype to New York (obviously, this is not where Apple is located)
    4. took the iPhone prototype apart and described the contents.
    5. confessed about their crime to the world.

    If they damaged the prototype in taking it apart, that's another crime: vandalism.

    Someone is going to prison.

    Take it as a lesson learned.

  1. rtamesis

    Joined: Dec 1969


    A bunch of thieves

    This is what happens when Gizmodo (and EFF's) philosophy is that the end justify the means.

  1. MizuInOz

    Joined: Dec 1969


    GIZMODO is not a victim

    EFF has some points - on occasion. However, in this case, they are out of line.

    I no longer have GIZMODO in my bookmarks.
    Enabling a criminal gives them permission to commit the crime again - or a greater crime.
    To profess "freedom of the press" as a justification to GRAND THEFT and divulging "trade secret" information is hogwash at its easiest and serious felonies at its best (for Apple).

    Why GRAND THEFT? I know how much money goes into the development of a product. This is a prototype that is not in public domain use or released to the public - even announced as a product, so this is a highly valuable item. As an example, if you were able to purloin the next generation of the BMW X7 (not announced yet) for $5000 and you were able to do a complete teardown and then show pictures to the world, what is the value of damages of your activities and public release to BMW. Just because someone has a ingrown hair over Apple's success and wants to harm them or embarrass them, it does not justify illegal activity. So how much is an early release of the top selling smartphone in the world worth?


    GIZMODO may have gotten a scoop but they are going to be scooping da p*** on this little kerfuffle. Dipsticks.

    Cheers from the Land Downunder - where if you want to live here all you go to do is show up on a crowded boat and plead political asylum. A new boatload arrives almost every day!

  1. russellb

    Joined: Dec 1969


    EFF civil liberties

    Give me a break .. Gizmodo are wrong wrong wrong ... lock them up. They purchased property they full well knew was not theirs, was obviously the property of Apple. You pay $5,000 for a phone you know damn well it is stolen or at least not rightfully the sellers to sell.

    Go to Jail Gizmodo

    It is not as if they are producing REAL journalism .. if thats what you want to call it

  1. facebook_Ashok

    Via Facebook

    Joined: Apr 2010


    Apple douchebags running amok here ?

    ok, gizmodo was wrong. but the police raid on apple's prod isnt just right. siezing computers, bank statements ? this stinks of a police state. thanks to eff, the police suddenly thought they looked like the underlings from cupertino. this stinks all over of a police state in the making. police raid at the behest of a corporation !

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