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April 27, 2010

Gizmodo editor's house raided as part of "stolen" iPhone probe


 It's the geeky, Silicon Valley version of "COPS." Sadly, however, to our inappropriate amusement, no Tasers were used.

The drama deepened yesterday when Gizmodo reported that its editor's house was recently raided by California authorities investigating the case of the missing 4th generation iPhone.

In case you've been unplugged for the past week, Gizmodo was approached by a dude who claimed he may or may not have had a missing iPhone prototype. So Gizmodo decided to pay him $5,000 to see if what he had was indeed an iPhone prototype.

After taking the phone apart and writing numerous posts about it, Gizmodo returned the phone to Apple. All along the tech blog has claimed it didn't know it was Apple's until they pretty much confirmed it was, and then promptly made moves to return it.

That's Gizmodo's story and I'm sure they'll be sticking to it. Everyone's watching this case and wondering if Gizmodo and its owner, Gawker Media, will successfully protect themselves under the journalist shield law. But John Gruber, of Daring Fireball, puts it succinctly when he says the state of California's argument might be: "Hey, you committed a felony."

Now, some have raised questions about the validity of the search of the editor's home. Wired has a story that points out journalists must be subpoenaed, and that they're not subject to unannounced searches.

Meanwhile, I can't help but wonder if Gizmodo routinely pays thousands of dollars for gadgets that may or may not be authentic. If that's part of their normal business practice, then I could see their defense holding water.

But really -- who pays thousands of dollars for a "prototype" if they're not sure it's the real thing? And if they're sure it's the real thing, then they probably shouldn't be buying it in the first place. "News" orgs shouldn't be buying things that are known to belong to someone else.

This whole thing is a mess and, right now, I don't really feel sorry for Gizmodo. What do you think?

This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:
Posted by Gus Sentementes at 8:55 AM | | Comments (11)
Categories: *NEWS*, Geeks, Smartphones, West Coast


What ever happened to "Finders Keepers. Losers Weepers?"

It's not like it was stolen property. And there was a story last week (possibly on Gizmodo, but I don't remember) that said the guy who found the phone tried to return it to Apple, but they ignored him.

If I find something that belongs to someone else, and I try to return it but they don't want it, how is that stolen?

How idiotic can some people be. If you found a Razr cell phone in a bar would you call Motorola! If you sincerely wanted to return the lost property you would be in touch with the bar where you found it. This guy, who should be exposed, thought he had himself an iPhone and had no intention of returning it. Under California Law that is a crime.

Gizmodo endgadget buy stuff like this all the time. Most of the time it turns out to be knockoffs like the flock of fake ipads that they bought and showed to fake. Its what they do and they had everyright to do what they did.

what i want to know is who the hell lost the phone in the first place. And in a bar what the hell? Im sure their arse is getting a kicking.

The finder AND Gizmodo made reasonable efforts to verify ownership and return the iPhone to the engineer and Apple. Apple initially denied ownership to both parties. If indeed a search was conducted by authorities at the request of Apple attributed to the iPhone, I would initiate a lawsuit against Apple Inc. and the legal entity responsible for the search. This was not a theft of the device but poorly mishandled elitist attitudes by Apple and management.

look, you cannot raid newsrooms. period.
i don't see why you're so shocked about gizmodo buying 'news'. it's commonplace, it's everywhere. they just admitted.
they bough the device, took photos because it's their journalistic duty and then they sent the phone back to apple, like they always said they would.
sure, the cops want to know their source, because he committed a crime (in cali is a crime to find stuff and not returning if you know who owns it. its then labeled stolen property). yes, buying stolen property is a felony also. but this is NOT the case, they paid for journalistic matter and never intended to keep the phone for their personal amusement. if the cops want to know the source of the iphone, a subpoena must be submitted, and the journalist will most likely invoke the first amendment. sure, apple is pissed, the DA wants to sue someone. but this is not the right thing to do, no sir. btw, i also think gizmodo handled pretty poorly the whole situation. exposing the engineer wasnt so cool, but anyway, this is opinion, ethics, whatever. the cold letter of the law is what really matters

i think this comes down to three things stupidity on the behalf of the engineer if you were going drinking why would u take it with you. Two greed on the behalf the seller and gizmodo if that is cali law then yes once found out it was a prototype it should have been taken at all means to return it to apple. And finally three apple are also responsible for not taking said phone calls seriously especially once found out it was missing.

I think I would type in some sort of defense of Gizmodo had they not publicly disclosed the Apple engineer and made him look like a bumbling drunk college drop-out. That's when they crossed the line in my opinion. I think they turned this opportunity into an embarrassment for all parties involved so I will defer to the lawyers to figure things out. There were better ways to handle the story.

I will say that those search laws need to be updated to be more specific. The newsroom is not necessarily a buzzing office littered with papers like something out of Spiderman. It can be an office in an average home.

You know if you read the letter from Apple to Gizmodo then it states that the phone was Apple's, therefore an attempt was done to return it to Apple, which was ignored. Now i like Apple stuff but really they seem like they are crying over split milk and want to lash out at someone, for raining on their parade. Well grow up, get over it and get it out so we can all go buy it.

After all if it was that secretive then why would they let it out to some 27 year old. Not the brightest idea. Just glad to see that this is the kind of support and action that I can get from the police if I lose my iphone.

They should go after the guy who lost it, not the one who found it.

This guy, who should be exposed, thought he had himself an iPhone and had no intention of returning it. Under California Law that is a crime.

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About Gus G. Sentementes
Gus G. Sentementes (@gussent on Twitter) has been writing for The Baltimore Sun since 2000. He's covered real estate, business, prisons, and suburban and Baltimore City crime and cops. He was one of the first reporters at The Sun to use multimedia tools and Web applications -- a video camera, an iPhone -- to cover breaking news. He hopes to cover Maryland geeks and the gadgets and Web sites they build, and learn -- and share -- something new every day.

Gus has a wife, a young daughter and two feuding cats. They live in Northeast Baltimore.
This is an archived version of the technology blog. For updated coverage, see the current baltTech location:

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