iPhone Prototype Investigation Continues - What's The End?


As you remember, last Friday the Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team searched the house of Gizmodo's editor who reportedly had iPhone 4G prototype. Well now we have information from MarketWatch that the steering committee which oversees the REACT team consists of Apple, Google, Adobe and other companies. This data was taken from California's High Technology Crime Advisory Committee's annual report dated 2008.

Moreover, it is reported that the steering committee doesn't have "defined membership" and its meetings can be visited by all of the company representatives. Apple representatives did not visit any recent meeting, but the company is currently listed amongst companies that have open investigations to attend. That means that Apple may be a director of a Friday episode with Jason Chen.

But today's news reveals that is not the end of the story.

San Jose Business Journal had a talk with investigators, who say that they already interviewed the person who found the iPhone 4G in German bar, but there is still no evidence that it was he who sold the device to Gizmodo for $5,000. Steve Wagstaffe, who is a San Mateo County Deputy Chief, says they don't have concrete conclusions yet:

“We’re still not saying it’s a crime. The investigation has contacted as many segments of the people involved in this situation, including the person who took the phone from the German restaurant. The police know who he is and they have talked to him.”

It is still unknown, whether Gizmodo's editor Jason Chen can be protected as a journalist under California's laws. Until it will be cleared, Jason's devices will remain untouched.

Steve Wagstaffe also confirmed Apple's role in investigation by saying that the company's outside counsel asked authorities to launch this investigation.

Meanwhile new Gizmodo's lawyer Thomas Burke told that his client is thinking about filing a lawsuit against the police for the latter's raid of Chen's home. Greg Sandoval from CNET reveals that the lawyer also said Jason's apartment qualifies as a newsroom and it is protected by shield laws, and that the search wasn't the appropriate method.

"If a request had been made, we would have freely and quickly given assurances under penalty of perjury that no information is destroyed. That's what would happen if a subpoena were followed, which is what happens ordinarily in these circumstances. That's why it's such a contravention of process. If that request had been made, none of this would have been an issue."

But Wagstaffe assures there were "some good reasons why he and the judge felt the warrant was properly issued".

Earlier Apple has already had a series of attempts to subpoena bloggers when they wanted to know the man who was leaking the information. But in this case there was no criminal conduct to allege.

The scenario has two different ways of further developments.

  1. If the police suspects Gizmodo in buying stolen property, then the shield laws won't work and blogger group will not have basis to sue the police.
  2. If the police just investigates the individual who was the one who found iPhone 4G, then Gizmodo will apply shield laws and that means that cops won't have an ability to determine or at least confirm who was the original source of their reports and who exactly sold the prototype to the news resource.

It is also possible the police is looking forward for both of the variants.

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