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Police Seize Computers Over Next Generation iPhone Prototype
engine

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Msg#: 4122755 posted 11:55 am on Apr 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

Police Sieze Computers Over Next Generation iPhone Prototype [news.bbc.co.uk]
Police in California have seized computers belonging to the editor of a gadget blog which was involved in the purchase of an iPhone prototype.

Gizmodo had admitted it paid $5,000 to an unnamed individual for the next generation device, which was reportedly left in a bar by an Apple employee.

Editor Jason Chen published photographs and videos of the phone last week.

Gizmodo may have violated a California law covering the appropriation of stolen property for personal benefit.

 

StoutFiles

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Msg#: 4122755 posted 5:18 pm on Apr 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

After they had called and tried to return it?


That review was going up regardless, they just needed to put that in the review to protect themselves. "We called the basic customer support where of course they weren't going to take us seriously unless the whole company was on Level 5 Red Alert for the missing phone". Unless they enjoy paying 5,000 dollars for good Samaritan acts, which this was not.

I predict the calls did in fact happen, and there are records.

Of course the call system, and general lack of personal investment by employees, at large corporations pretty much guarantees they got snubbed. Personally I'd enjoy the irony.


They knew they were going to get snubbed, my point exactly. Doesn't mean it makes what they did right.

In this story you're either going to support the big greedy company who wants to punish the little guy for revealing its secrets, or you're going to support the greedy little guy who knew he was doing something wrong and tried to cover all his bases while doing it. I guess the courts will decide who was right and who was wrong.

timster

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Msg#: 4122755 posted 5:23 pm on Apr 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

To anyone asserting "Finder's keepers," here is excerpt the California penal code regarding lost property.

485. One who finds lost property under circumstances which give him knowledge of or means of inquiry as to the true owner, and who appropriates such property to his own use, or to the use of another person not entitled thereto, without first making reasonable and just efforts to find the owner and to restore the property to him, is guilty of theft.


[leginfo.ca.gov ]

I don't think the excuse of calling Apple first before using it is going to hold up in court.

StoutFiles

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4122755 posted 5:33 pm on Apr 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

Newspapers and reporters profited from the release of tobacco companies' secrets. They received leaked internal memos and published them.

You want them arrested? You want them stopped? Do you honestly believe that reporting a company secret equals theft? Honestly?

You want companies arresting reporters for reporting and *gasp* profiting from reporting company secrets? You think this is good?


I believe professional journalists are protected with special free speech laws. I'm not sure if bloggers get the same protection.

I don't really care either way, I'm just saying that Apple is going to try and punish him and with their legal force they will probably be able to do so. I'd like to think that if I left my phone somewhere all my text messages wouldn't be posted on the web before my phone is returned, so I'm siding with Apple. There needs to be a level of respect when it comes to trade secrets.

If Gizmodo posted an article that the iPhone causes brain cancer and Apple hid these facts, then I would side with Gizmodo. The impartial judge and jury would too because we live in a world with *gasp* morals. At least I would hope we do.

Demaestro

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Msg#: 4122755 posted 6:05 pm on Apr 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

I believe professional journalists are protected with special free speech laws. I'm not sure if bloggers get the same protection.


Gizmodo isn't a professional journalist? Really? They report on tech news and tech gadgets, they profit from this, I believe those would be the qualifications for a professional journalist. One who reports and earns a living from doing so.

If Gizmodo posted an article that the iPhone causes brain cancer and Apple hid these facts, then I would side with Gizmodo.


You think the determining factor when deciding, "Is this theft or is this news" is depending on how worth while you deem the news story to be.

You don't see anything wrong with that?

There needs to be a level of respect when it comes to trade secrets.


Why would a reporter respect a trade secret, especially when they have that secret hanging out in bars left for anyone with interest to find.

Stout I am really curious... do you think that it is right for Apple to press charges of theft under these circumstances? Honestly.

buckworks

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Msg#: 4122755 posted 6:20 pm on Apr 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

Theft of the physical phone ... might be a tricky claim to make.

Theft of intellectual property? Abso-freakin-lutely.

StoutFiles

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Msg#: 4122755 posted 6:42 pm on Apr 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

Gizmodo isn't a professional journalist? Really? They report on tech news and tech gadgets, they profit from this, I believe those would be the qualifications for a professional journalist. One who reports and earns a living from doing so.


So if I write an article on my site which has ads on it, I am now a professional journalist? The Gawker spokesman said Chen was protected from a journalism law, but there was debate as whether he's actually protected by it being a blogger. I really don't know how it works but I wouldn't do anything risky on my site thinking I'd be protected by this law.

You think the determining factor when deciding, "Is this theft or is this news" is depending on how worth while you deem the news story to be.

You don't see anything wrong with that?


Oh of course it's not impartial or fair, but that's life. I think if Chen published secrets that Apple was building a nuclear bomb we'd all rally behind Chen right now, wouldn't we?

Why would a reporter respect a trade secret, especially when they have that secret hanging out in bars left for anyone with interest to find.

Stout I am really curious... do you think that it is right for Apple to press charges of theft under these circumstances? Honestly.


What if it really was stolen though? Was Gizmodo there...when they bought it were they 100% sure that it wasn't swiped from a drunk employee?

As for pressing charges...no, Gizmodo having the phone isn't a big deal considering how they got it. Theft of the intellectual property they displayed, sure. Apple wouldn't be pressing theft charges if Gizmodo hadn't put that review online, that's the real issue.

But yes, I think a public statement about what they will do to people for future intellectual theft would have been nicer then knocking his door down and taking his computers.

Philosopher

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Msg#: 4122755 posted 7:16 pm on Apr 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

The debate isn't really about whether Chen is considered a journalist. There are plenty of previous cases that give online journalists the same protections as traditional journalists.

The issue seems to be whether those protections extend to a journalist that is also a party to the crime. That looks like it will be the bigger issue. If Chen is part of a crime, then the protections seem to go away.

Should be interesting times ahead for Chen and Gizmodo.

Demaestro

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Msg#: 4122755 posted 7:24 pm on Apr 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

Theft of the intellectual property they displayed, sure.


That isn't what they are being charged with now is it. You are making strawman argument. Who said they are being charged with theft of intellectual property?

They are being charged with receiving stolen goods. The phone itself, not for opening it and reporting on what they saw.

You made other strawman arguments about if someone found my phone and published all the text messages, but that also isn't what happened here. They didn't report on the text messages, they didn't report his call history, they reported technical aspects of the new hardware.

What if it really was stolen though?


The leaked internal documents that exposed the tobacco companies were stolen as well. That isn't the point, the point is he should be protected like the papers are.

Apple wouldn't be pressing theft charges if Gizmodo hadn't put that review online, that's the real issue.


That is retaliatory, it was theft or it wasn't, publishing a report on the hardware of the phone doesn't make it theft where before there was none.

The raids were conducted by the Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team (React), a Californian computer crime taskforce.

The taskforce was set up on 1997 to address the rising problem of computer fraud and identity theft.

It works closely with the computer industry and Apple is reported to be one of 25 tech firms to sit on the steering committee.


Doesn't it seem strange to you that a theft complaint would be reported to and enforced by a taskforce who's mandate is to investigate computer fraud and identity theft.

If I lose my phone in a bar and find out someone has it can I called R.E.A.C.T. as well?

This wreaks of corruption, abuse of power and of position.

httpwebwitch

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Msg#: 4122755 posted 7:37 pm on Apr 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

I know lots of folks who work at RIM (maker of the BlackBerry). Only a few well-trusted individuals get to do "field testing" of unreleased products. Lemme say, they don't let just anyone carry those things, and the people with them know darn well the consequences if they let one leak to the public. I saw one once (just looked, not touched), and I noticed that it was *engraved* on the back with a warning that anyone with common sense knows they'd better heed.

Apple is justified in being pissed off. This will be a fun one to watch.

Hugene

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4122755 posted 8:04 pm on Apr 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

The really twisted thing here is that "company secrets" is difficult to define: all I saw from Gizmodo are pictures of the new iPhone. This to me is hardly company secrets. Maybe they discovered an new app or two or new functionality (but you see, I don't even know about it)

A "company secret" should be more like: a new innovative feature, or a new device.

If anything Apple is getting free marketing through these leaks.

And finally, Gizmodo has religious following: if they go after them hard, I predict a backlash against Apple, from the initial adopters crowd, the one they always need.

StoutFiles

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Msg#: 4122755 posted 8:05 pm on Apr 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

That isn't what they are being charged with now is it. You are making strawman argument. Who said they are being charged with theft of intellectual property?


They aren't being charged with intellectual property theft, but that's what it's about. The website article is what this is about. For the courts though, they are suing something they can likely win.

steal (v) - To take (the property of another) without right or permission.

Did the Apple employee give permission for his phone to be taken from the bar and then sold? No! "Finders keepers" is, by definition, stealing. Did Chen know the phone was not owned by the guy whom he brought it from? Yes! Chen has now violated a California law covering the appropriation of stolen property for personal benefit.

Therefore, they are suing for this reason. It's about the website article though, that's what all this is about. The website article. Suing for something they can win though to punish Chen and make an example of him.

Before this development if you were handed a new iPad 2.0 with all new hardware, you might be tempted to sell it or post a review on it. How about now? I'd think twice before I do anything that stupid.

Doesn't it seem strange to you that a theft complaint would be reported to and enforced by a taskforce who's mandate is to investigate computer fraud and identity theft.


Of course! The search and seizure was probably illegal, but it depends if Chen is protected by the journalism property law.

This wreaks of corruption, abuse of power and of position.


Everything in the legal system revolves around this. You're surprised? Common sense tells me not to mess with the government or large companies. Life isn't fair.

Eurydice

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4122755 posted 8:13 pm on Apr 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

If Chen (the blogger) is a free-lancer, he's in serious trouble. I doubt Gawker (which owns Gizmodo) is going to pay legal fees for a free-lancer.

Let's see if Gawker stands up for its team.

Trav

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4122755 posted 8:46 pm on Apr 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

without first making reasonable and just efforts to find the owner and to restore the property to him


What's reasonable? If Apple knew they had lost the phone (as evidenced by the fact that they bricked it within hours of it disappearing), then why did they not direct some of their copious resources to manning the phones with operators that were advised of the situation? One could almost argue that they've fostered this by not enabling the finding party to make a simple phone call to return it. Seems like a lot of smoke from a small fire.

Demaestro

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Msg#: 4122755 posted 10:32 pm on Apr 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

They aren't being charged with intellectual property theft, but that's what it's about.


Well if that is what this is about then why didn't they charge them with the proper offense? It is highly offensive and illegal to charge someone with a crime that has nothing to do with the action he took.

If I sleep with a police chiefs daughter and he catches her at my house and we are both 21 would you be ok with it if he got the sexual crimes taskforce to rip apart my house and have me charged with some random crime that has nothing to do with the issue? What if he caught us driving to a burger place in her car but he is the registered owner so he charges me with theft of a vehicle.

It is an abuse, if it is about intellectual property then that should be what it is about, if it is theft then the guy should have to really steal something to be charged with it.

Did the Apple employee give permission for his phone to be taken from the bar and then sold? No!


What does this have to do with Chen's actions? Why not charge the guy who sold it?

"Finders keepers" is, by definition, stealing. Did Chen know the phone was not owned by the guy whom he brought it from? Yes!


Just because he bought it from someone who wasn't the owner doesn't make the phone stolen.

He took steps to find and contact the owner, and he returned the phone. That speaks to his intent, no person who bought a stolen item for personal use would publish it, nor would they contact the owner to return it. Intent has a lot to do with this and no one can argue with a straight face that Chen that intended the phone to remain in his possession or that he had no intentions of returning it. He had every intention of returning it.

It is a BS arrest.

It is a BS search.

It is a BS charge.

It is BS that a taskforce mandated to protect i.d. theft and computer fraud is wasting their time on this just because the company in question is Apple who sits on the board for this taskforce. What a waste of resources.

A gross example of abuse of power and law.

Comparing Apple's action in this matter to Chen's I only see one obvious criminal.

BillyS

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Msg#: 4122755 posted 10:59 pm on Apr 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

If Apple knew they had lost the phone (as evidenced by the fact that they bricked it within hours of it disappearing), then why did they not direct some of their copious resources to manning the phones with operators that were advised of the situation?


Apple knew the phone was lost. They bricked it remotely.

Let's get real in this thread. This isn't about theft of a phone, that's a LAME excuse Apple is using to justify this action. This is about teaching someone a lesson and deflecting attention from their own mistake.

StoutFiles

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4122755 posted 11:16 pm on Apr 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

Well if that is what this is about then why didn't they charge them with the proper offense? It is highly offensive and illegal to charge someone with a crime that has nothing to do with the action he took.


The other offense is, legally, completely legit. Remember, this is just about teaching a lesson, doesn't really matter now as long as they win.

What does this have to do with Chen's actions? Why not charge the guy who sold it?


Has that identity been released? I'm pretty sure they will charge that guy as well. As said before though, Chen has now violated a California law covering the appropriation of stolen property for personal benefit (assuming they rule the phone was stolen, which by the definition of stolen it was).

Just because he bought it from someone who wasn't the owner doesn't make the phone stolen.


By the legal definition I believe it does.

He took steps to find and contact the owner, and he returned the phone.


Not before the whole intellectual property theft article fiasco. Had he not published the article, do you believe this would be happening?

A gross example of abuse of power and law.


Agreed. But unless he's a complete moron he had to know that publishing that article would be rolling the dice with Apple's patience.

buckworks

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Msg#: 4122755 posted 11:31 pm on Apr 27, 2010 (gmt 0)

He took steps to find and contact the owner, and he returned the phone.


Read the whole story, including all the background articles.

Chen is not the one who made the phone calls to try to return the phone. The original finder was the one who did that.

Chen doesn't seem to have taken any steps to try to return the phone until Apple asked for it.

By then he had published their trade secrets far and wide.

Neither his intentions nor his conduct had much honor here.

walkman



 
Msg#: 4122755 posted 12:57 am on Apr 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

Apple is on the 'cool' category so bad press that would cripple MSFT does nothing for them. But a bully is a bully

graeme_p

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Msg#: 4122755 posted 10:32 am on Apr 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

Absolutely, it's about theft of intellectual property

There is no such thing per se: there are offences such as criminal breach of copyright, but I cannot see that they can allege any of those here.
The question in my mind is whether Gizmodo would get nailed for corporate espionage

Now that is a possibility, but what is the actual law on that? I am pretty sure, that, for example bribing an employee to leak secrets would get you into trouble there, but using something that was left lying around? Does anyone know the applicable law?

I am guessing that Apple are going after them for physical theft because they are off the hook for everything else.

wheel

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Msg#: 4122755 posted 11:04 am on Apr 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

[Neither his intentions nor his conduct had much honor here.

Clearly. But we shouldn't have a private company manipulating the police to search and sieze your property because they don't like something you've done. He clearly used the phone to get a leap on the new iphone. That is still nothing in comparison to what Apple's done in response.

You want the police tearing apart your house because apple doesn't like something you've said online? Shoot, if we're going that way I need to watch my lips over what I say about Google.

civgroup

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4122755 posted 1:02 pm on Apr 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

Some of you need to realize that you are defending a corporation for trying to destroy a reporter for reporting their secrets that they left in a public bar.

That's really what this boils down to, and in the end Apple will have a black eye for trying to squash this guy. We have a free press in this country - at least for now.

BillyS

WebmasterWorld Senior Member billys us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4122755 posted 1:38 pm on Apr 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

a corporation for trying to destroy a reporter for reporting their secrets that they left in a public bar.

Exactly right. If this was such a closely guarded secret, then what in the world is a guy doing walking around with the device in his pocket? Hogwash (is that the term).

StoutFiles

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Msg#: 4122755 posted 1:43 pm on Apr 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

That's really what this boils down to, and in the end Apple will have a black eye for trying to squash this guy.


Apple has so much brand loyalty that taking down a blogger won't bother any of the Apple faithful. Apple's always had a closed off elitist attitude, this shouldn't surprise anyone.

If this was such a closely guarded secret, then what in the world is a guy doing walking around with the device in his pocket?


All companies do field testing, but the people do these tests aren't moronic enough to leave without the valuable product they're testing. People make mistakes but unless it was actually stolen from him you'd have to pretty dumb to not make sure it was on you before you left the bar. He was lucky to not be fired and likely won't be trusted with taking an unreleased product off company grounds ever again.

timster

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Msg#: 4122755 posted 5:04 pm on Apr 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

you are defending a corporation


Actually, I don't see a lot of that on this thread. I see a lot of people attacking a corporation, and other people arguing the law must be upheld, and that breaking it publicly is not a good idea.

Personally, it doesn't make a difference to me if it's Apple's phone, Microsoft's, or yours.

Swanny007

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Msg#: 4122755 posted 7:19 pm on Apr 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

I think this whole thing is getting blown out of proportion. It doesn't seem that the iPhone was stolen. If it was lost, then whatever happens happens.

I wasn't much of an Apple fanboy but I bought an iPhone 3G then later bought an iMac. I'm not a typical fanboy but I do like their products. This is definitely leaving a bad taste in my mouth (pun intended). With that said, I am looking forward to buying one of these new iPhones when they come out ;-)

Zamboni

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4122755 posted 7:27 pm on Apr 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

Scott Adams (Dilbert) take on the lost iphone.


[dilbert.com ]

Hugene

10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4122755 posted 9:10 pm on Apr 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

Now this is getting scary as hell, Apple employees try to gain access to home of person who found phone: [wired.com...]

This is insane, and pretty illegal. It's scary, like a movie about a corporation launching it's henchmen after a person.

Keep buying into the hype people, keep buying iPhones and not being root on them. The way people are blinded by the propaganda machine, we soon won't be root on our PCs and you wont be admin on your website console either.

Demaestro

WebmasterWorld Senior Member demaestro us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4122755 posted 9:46 pm on Apr 28, 2010 (gmt 0)

which by the definition of stolen it was


Not by the definition I read. What I read says reasonable attempts have to be made to contact the true owner. I didn't see what they consider to be reasonable.

From what I have gathered the original person who found it did this, and so did Chen.... however Chen's attempts to do so are in question. But Chen didn't find the phone so I am not sure that he is required to help find the owner since that had been done by the person who found it.

I guess a court will decide on that issue.

But if I were Chen I would argue that posting an article on a well known and very well read blog that the phone was lost and found, where it was lost and found, and who has it currently. That seems like a decent way of letting the owner know. Just like if he put up posters around the area that said:

"Found! 1 next gen iPhone with a front facing camera and with flash on back, black cover.... <insert more description and contact info>"

I think Chen's blog post was the best way to let the owner know he found their phone. A world wide found poster.

Eurydice

5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4122755 posted 5:26 am on Apr 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

From CNet today:

"Under California law dating back to 1872, any person who finds lost property and knows who the owner is likely to be--but "appropriates such property to his own use"--is guilty of theft. There are no exceptions for journalists.

In addition, a second state law says any person who knowingly receives property that has been obtained illegally can be imprisoned for up to one year.

"...someone who claimed to have the phone contacted multiple media outlets, including Wired and Engadget."

"Editors at both news organizations confirmed that they were contacted not about verifying whether the phone was legitimate but in buying the device."

Ol' Steve must be grinning. Gizmodo will soon be roadkill.

StoutFiles

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 5+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4122755 posted 11:55 am on Apr 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

“California’s penal code, section 485:

One who finds lost property under circumstances which give him knowledge of or means of inquiry as to the true owner, and who appropriates such property to his own use, or to the use of another person not entitled thereto, without first making reasonable and just efforts to find the owner and to restore the property to him, is guilty of theft.”



Chen looks like he's screwed, but it seems that a jury will need to decide if the original finder calling Apple's support desk is considered a reasonable and just effort to find the owner. Wired and Engadget must be breathing a sigh of relief that they didn't take the phone.

BillyS

WebmasterWorld Senior Member billys us a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



 
Msg#: 4122755 posted 12:47 pm on Apr 29, 2010 (gmt 0)

I'm not so sure anyone's guilty of anything here. Did you guys read the story? The person that found the phone had been trying to return the phone for weeks.

They bricked the phone the day after he left it in the bar. No one intended on keeping the phone, once Apple got its act together and asked for the phone back they got it right away.

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