Shield laws trump EEEEEEEVERYTHING!

Arnold Kim approvingly links to this piece on ZDNet which claims the real story is that the police failed to identify Jason Chen as a journalist.

Well, maybe that’s just because they’ve read Gizmodo before.

Ha-ha! Ahhh… the Macalope kids Gizmodo because they have no journalistic integrity.

OK, look, the horny one is not a lawyer — neither is Kim (he’s actually a doctor) or ZDNet’s Sam Diaz — but he’ll weigh in on this under the legal precedent of “they started it” (see the case of George “Spanky” McFarland vs. Tommy “Butch” Bond, 1932).

Perhaps the police didn’t note that Chen was a journalist… because it doesn’t matter. Diaz raises this possibility but still goes on for a thousand words about how journalists need protections. Journalists do not need protections from breaking the law. No one does.

The Macalope had previously stipulated the point that it seems unnecessary for the police to have busted Chen’s door down. But now we know that the other half of this equation — the goofballs who were shopping the phone around the more sleazy elements of the supposedly irreproachable journalistic world — ran from police and attempted to hide the evidence of their malfeasance. The police had reasonable cause to suspect there was something going on here that the parties involved with had a desire to cover up and may have felt Chen would do the same.

The brown and furry one knows any number of real journalists and when he described the situation to one who was previously unfamiliar with it, she listened patiently and then openly gasped when he told her Gizmodo paid for the phone. Real journalists to do not pay their sources for information, let alone traffic with them in misappropriated property. The Macalope does not understand the knee-jerk effort by more respectable elements of the journalist community to come to the aid of Gizmodo in this case.

Again: not a lawyer. This is just the opinion of this mythical beast, which is worth little more than the pixels it’s displayed with.

Comments
  • James:

    I wish Gizmodo’s defenders would for once and all recognize that, by any plain reading of California law and Gizmodo’s own admissions about the case, several crimes were committed. Brian Hogan committed felony theft the minute he decided to shop the phone around (if not sooner — the only person who knows how the phone got into Hogan’s hands is Hogan, and I don’t think he’s a credible source in that regard). Chen committed three separate felonies when he bought the phone, took it apart, and plastered the info over Gizmodo’s site. (I won’t get into possible extortion charges.) There’s no defense for any of this. None.

    But none of Gizmodo’s defenders address this. It would be one thing if they argued “He committed felonies, but…”, but they can’t even be bothered to do that. They pretend that legally the whole thing is on a level with a teenage prank, which is generally how Gizmodo has treated the whole thing.

    Which is a big reason why I want to see Gizmodo fry.

  • Lukas:

    “Real journalists to do not pay their sources for information”

    Actually, papers often buy information from sources, and if this ends up being against the law, the journalists who were involved sometimes get convicted for it. Shield laws have nothing to do with it; they merely protect journalists from having to divulge their sources (it’s a “right to refuse to testify as to information and/or sources of information obtained during the news gathering and dissemination process”, as Wikipedia puts it). Which is why shield laws actually are marginally connected to this particular case, since the source of the iPhone might have been on one of the computers taken by the police.

  • Kris:

    A blogger is not necessarily a journalist. It take more than being able to write to be the latter.

  • KiltBear:

    “Again: not a lawyer. This is just the opinion of this mythical beast, which is worth little more than the pixels it’s displayed with.”

    Considering, that those pixels are on my flash-forbidding iPad, that’s not chump change… chump.

  • Adam:

    Seems to me, as long as you write about your life online you’re legally allowed to do just about anything. Tonight, I’m getting drunk and torching a few cars. Of course, this is all in the name of research about my article on the pitfalls of alcohol and matches. Expect to read my journalistic endeavors tomorrow afternoon.

  • dannyo152:

    This here fella came of his age in the times and geographical vicinity of an activist anti-Viet Nam War college campus. One of the ones that had tragic consequences. One of the ones that had clear police misconduct.

    I have also sat on a jury and seen testimony from police officers waver and wobble under the simple, non-trick questions posed by the defense attorney.

    I see the possibility, the possibility, that the omission of identification of Chen as journalist was not incompetence as Diaz suggests, but an experienced police officer including the minimum for the investigation to proceed and leaving out any complicating issues.

    I am also squarely on the side that opines the allegations against Chen et al, if proven, are not protected by shield laws, which I supported when these laws emerged in the 70s and support now.

    However, I don’t count. Chen, if charged, will have his day in court and is free to challenge the legality of the evidence-gathering and I will defer to what the court decides regarding the issue. In any case, Chen is innocent until found guilty by a jury in a fair trial.

    Wait, is it niacin or nuance that has a daily minimum?

  • “Which is a big reason why I want to see Gizmodo fry.”

    I don’t want to see Giz fry. Blended maybe.

  • James Katt:

    The shield laws don’t protect a journalists who commit a crime.

    Let’s look at the potential charges and outcomes:

    Hogan: guilty of grand theft, sale of stolen property, conspiracy to commit a crime, and obstruction of justice (by his attempt to hide the evidence). Four felonies. In California, this may qualify for the Three Strikes Law, resulting in life in prison.

    Warner (Hogan’s croney): guilty of accessory to grand theft, conspiracy to commit a crime, and obstruction of justice (attempting to hide the evidence). Three felonies. Life in prison.

    Chen (Gizmodo editor who bought the stolen iPhone): guilty of grand theft, receiving stolen property, conspiracy to commit a crime, felony vandalism (damaging the iPhone), and trade secrets law violation. Five felonies. Life in prison.

    Lam (Gizmodo editor who photographed the disassembled iPhone and demanded concessions from Steve Jobs in return for the stolen iPhone): guilty of grand theft, receiving stolen property, conspiracy to commit a crime, felony vandalism, trade secrets law violation, and extortion (holding the iPhone for ransom from Steve Jobs). Six Felonies. Life in prison.

    These four are going to hang.

    I have no pity for them.

    The shield laws do not protect criminal behavior of journalists.

    • JP:

      Shield laws do protect journalists who commit crimes. They get special protection under California’s “King’s X” provision which gives them blanket protection as long as they say “King’s X” at the right time. It’s a great gig.

      • Jfatz:

        Um… I’m pretty sure you can’t trigger a three strikes law by having three different felony charges attached to the save offense.

  • honkj:

    If the editor at the New York Times Murdered someone at his office, which shield law protects him? (or his office) if he trafficked in cocaine at his office which shield law protects him?

    and here is the important one, if he trafficked in stolen property at his office, which shield law protects him?

    any bells and whistles going off there? it does not matter if he is a journalist of not, shield laws do not protect anyone that is part of the crime.

    honkj

  • honkj:

    “The Macalope had previously stipulated the point that it seems unnecessary for the police to have busted Chen’s door down. ”

    by the way, if I told you there was no door torn off any hinge, does it give a journalist the right to say that a door was torn off it’s hinge? yes, a journalist can say any lie he feels like saying, it is his right to make a fool out of himself… but does it make it right?

    ask yourself that, next time you repeat a bogus “journalist’s” tale in defense of your argument, I’d say if you wanted to be a journalist, why not go take a picture of this fabled door and let us all know what really happened. instead of repeating tales made up by journalists wishing they had something exciting to write about….

    honkj

  • Erin:

    Seems that mostof the gizmodo backers are also anti Apple, pro google/android zealots.

    Glad to see more facts out there. Giz/etc really screwed up, and these thieves should get the book thrown at them.

  • Lukas:

    I think we should stop overstating what people are actually saying. For example, I’ve yet to see anyone claim that shield laws allow journalists to commit all kinds of crimes without being persecuted by the police. The specific argument I’ve seen is that the police shouldn’t have taken Chen’s computers because shield laws protect him from revealing his sources, and his computers might contain his sources. I suspect this argument is wrong, but I’m not a lawyer; the argument doesn’t seem overly absurd to me.

    I also don’t quite understand why people are so angry at Giz for this. Giz is generally a really poor site, but in this particular case, they actually did dig up some true and useful information about one of Apple’s future products. That is their job. This is the one case where they actually did their job.

    Sure, they also did some really evil things while doing their job, like revealing the name of the person who lost the phone, but nobody seems to be talking about this. Everybody talks about the fact that Giz paid for the phone. Well, that’s what journalists do. If they see a story that they think would be useful to their readers (and the information in the iPhone post was clearly useful to know, since it allows people to make a more informed decision about whether to buy an iPhone now, or wait for the next version), they get that story. In some cases, that means that they break the law. But guess what, that’s why we have a justice system. We don’t need to determine who broke what law, and we don’t need to enforce the laws.

    So if we really need to rant about Giz, maybe it would be useful to rant about the truly evil things, and leave the legality of the situation up to the courts. Revealing information about the next iPhone simply doesn’t seem particularly evil to me, and paying for it may be illegal, but if it leads to a useful story, and if both the journalist and the seller realize and accept that they might get in trouble with the law, if both think that the story is important enough to warrant the trouble — well, that’s not evil. That’s doing one’s job.

    • James:

      Except the argument is absurd because it’s apparent to anyone that the police weren’t looking for Chen’s sources. They were looking for evidence of crimes committed by Chen. That was apparent when the warrant was first issued (it said so on the warrant itself). It’s patently obvious from the affidavit supporting the warrant — the cops already had Hogan and Warner at that point.

      A search warrant is a basic tool used in the investigation of any crime. Gizmodo’s defenders would have it that police could not investigate a crime allegedly committed by a journalist. Either that or they are pretending that there’s no possibility of criminal charges against Chen, which seems absurd on its face.

      I guess the acknowledgement of your post is that of course they’re not arguing what the Macalope is saying they’re arguing — it is, after all, absurd. But it is a conclusion that flows naturally from their writing. It’s brought about because Gizmodo’s defenders ignore the crimes committed and admitted to by Chen.

      • Lukas:

        “Gizmodo’s defenders would have it that police could not investigate a crime allegedly committed by a journalist.”

        I haven’t seen anyone say anything along those lines. The argument is pretty simple: Shield laws protect journalists from revealing sources. Chen’s sources (on this and other stories) were stored on his computers. The police took his computers. Hence, it makes sense to ask whether this violates shield laws. I think it probably doesn’t violate them, but I’m no lawyer, and I see how it could be possible that it does violate them.

        Nobody is saying that criminal charges against Chen should not be possible. Nobody is saying that you can’t investigate crimes committed by journalists. What people are saying is very specific: the police should not be able to take information about sources for a news story from a journalist.

      • James:

        @Lucas:

        But the police have to take the computers as part of their investigation of the crimes committed by Chen. They have no interest in Chen’s sources — Hogan and Warner were already singing like canaries at that point.

        They’re not saying “Chen should be able to get away with any crimes because he’s a journalist.” That’s just a logical conclusion from the arguments they do make.

      • Lukas:

        “But the police have to take the computers as part of their investigation of the crimes committed by Chen.”

        Which is one of the reasons why I suspect that the police was right in taking the computer, and that the Shield laws were not violated. I’m merely pointing out that the ideas that Shield laws could have been violated is not particularly outlandish.

        “They’re not saying “Chen should be able to get away with any crimes because he’s a journalist.” That’s just a logical conclusion from the arguments they do make.”

        I don’t see how it is a logical conclusion. Sounds like a false dichotomy to me. Either the police can take a journalist’s computers that probably contain sources, or journalists can get away with any crime just because they are journalists?

        Well, there is a lot of room between these two extremes.

        It’s perfectly reasonable to assume that the police can’t just take a journalist’s computers if these computers contain sources that are connected to the case that causes the police to want the computers, but can still otherwise investigate the journalist.

      • James:

        Let me break it down for you:

        Thinking the shield laws apply is reasonable if and only if you ignore the obvious fact that Chen is the target of the investigation.

        Ignoring the obvious is not reasonable.

      • Lukas:

        Again: Chen was contacted by a source. He bought a device from that source as part of gathering information for an article, thereby breaking the law. Shield laws protect him from having to testify as to who the source was. Information about the source is on his computer. When investigating Chen, the police took his computers. It is thus reasonable to think that this might violate Shield laws. Whether Chen was the target doesn’t change the fact that the police took his computers which contain information about a source connected to the case.

        Journalists are not protected from being investigated by the police. They are, however, in some cases protected from having their things seized by the police.

        Also Again: I do not think that this line of reasoning applies to this particular case, I merely think that it not unreasonable to assume that it does. I should also point out that investigation of Chen’s computers was put on hold at one point; apparently there are some people involved in this case (including a judge, as it seems) who agree with the notion that it is not unreasonable to assume that taking the computers violated Shield laws.

        I guess we can both continue making the exact same arguments for a really long time, but I doubt anything useful will be achieved by it. If it is your opinion that the people who think it is reasonable to assume that taking Chen’s computers might have violated Shield laws are “ignoring the obvious” and “unreasonable”, then I don’t really think that any amount of discussion will change either of our minds.

  • Alan:

    @ Lucas,

    “if both the journalist and the seller realize and accept that they might get in trouble with the law, if both think that the story is important enough to warrant the trouble — well, that’s not evil. That’s doing one’s job.”

    So the Giz writer’s job is to buy stolen merchandise and expose trade secrets and the thief’s job is to steal things and sell the stolen goods. Obviously, you know that both of them broke the law.

    “the information in the iPhone post was clearly useful to know, since it allows people to make a more informed decision about whether to buy an iPhone now, or wait for the next version”

    So you agree that Apple could lose sales and their trade secrets were exposed to all, including their competitors. Giz is again liable for these acts.

    Do you read what you write? You contradicted your premise more than once.

  • Lukas:

    “Obviously, you know that both of them broke the law.”

    And as I said: “But guess what, that’s why we have a justice system”. That system will determine what has to be done about Giz. It’s not our job to punish them for breaking the law.

    Why does everybody think that it is their job to personally defend Apple? Do people think that Apple doesn’t have any lawyers who will do whatever Apple thinks is necessary?

    Are you working for Apple? If not, why do you take it upon yourself to publicly condemn Giz for reporting something that was probably useful information to a ton of people? That’s what journalists do! Pointing out that what Giz did was probably illegal is fine. Getting all outraged about it as if somebody from Giz broke into your personal home, ate your chips, and poked your cat with a stick… that’s kind of weird.

    “You contradicted your premise more than once.”

    Perhaps I did. I don’t think you pointed out any specific cases, though.

    • Angel:

      “Why does everybody think that it is their job to personally defend Apple? Do people think that Apple doesn’t have any lawyers who will do whatever Apple thinks is necessary?”

      Same reason you feel the need to personally defend Gizmodo. Do they not also have lawyers? It’s not as if the lawyers are going to be browsing Macalope’s site to find arguments to help them.

      “Are you working for Apple? If not, why do you take it upon yourself to publicly condemn Giz for reporting something that was probably useful information to a ton of people? That’s what journalists do! Pointing out that what Giz did was probably illegal is fine. Getting all outraged about it as if somebody from Giz broke into your personal home, ate your chips, and poked your cat with a stick… that’s kind of weird.”

      We don’t have to defend Apple, but we admire Apple, so we might take slights against the company a little personally. Then there are people who are outraged over business decisions Apple make, sometimes even going so far as to compare Apple to North Korea, Nazi Germany, etc. Finally, there are those who waste their time on blogs by telling others that they are wasting their time and that there are more important issues in the world (and not understanding the irony of their preaching).

      Simply stated, people like to publicize their opinions.

      • Lukas:

        “Same reason you feel the need to personally defend Gizmodo.”

        Tell me where I defended Gizmodo. Perhaps where I wrote “Giz is generally a really poor site”? Or perhaps where I wrote “they also did some really evil things”?

        All I did was point out that the criticism of their paying for the iPhone was misguided. That’s what journalists do, they get the story, and sometimes they pay for it. If you want to criticize them, why not complain about something they did that was actually evil?

        “We don’t have to defend Apple, but we admire Apple, so we might take slights against the company a little personally.”

        As somebody who has used Macs since the 80s, has owned every iPhone, and has just ordered an iPad, I would suggest that it reflects poorly on us as a group if we take criticism of Apple so personally. There are colors other than “black” and “white”; we don’t need to defend everything Apple does, and go after everybody who says something bad about Apple.

    • Travis Butler:

      @Lucas: “Why does everybody think that it is their job to personally defend Apple? Do people think that Apple doesn’t have any lawyers who will do whatever Apple thinks is necessary?”

      I’m not particularly interested in defending Apple on this one. I’m interested in frying Gizmodo for behavior that was unprofessional at *best*, criminal at worst.

      I was trained as a journalist. When so-called news organizations like Gizmodo pull stunts like this, they tarnish the name of everyone involved in journalism; that’s reason enough for those who really do care about journalism to attack them.

      For starters: paying for information is *not* a common practice in journalism, as someone else mentioned. Back when I was in journalism school, this was regarded as something on the level of the National Enquirer – it might be necessary in rare cases, but as a regular thing it calls into question the ethics and credibility of the journalist, and raises conflict of interest issues. Would you consider courtroom testimony credible if witnesses were being paid to testify? And while it’s possible for a DA to cut a plea bargain to get a criminal suspect to turn state’s evidence and testify, defense attorneys can and do call their motives into question on the witness stand.

      “That’s what journalists do, they get the story, and sometimes they pay for it.”

      Again, no. Ethical journalists do not, as you imply, ‘get the story’ at all costs. They have limits; it was beaten into us at j-school that while it sometimes might be necessary to commit unethical or illegal acts to get a story, you had better be sure the story was worth it, i.e. that the story was exposing something at least as dirty as what you had to do to get it. And you had better be ready to face the consequences of your actions, if they were on the shady side. In this case, while a scoop on the next iPhone might be newsworthy, it in no way matches up to the level of ‘buying stolen property.’

      The fact that Apple was the subject is not the determining factor; the behavior of the ‘news organization’ is. I felt the same way last year when Arrington at TechCrunch announced his decision to publish data stolen from Twitter’s internal business computers; while the information he claimed to have might be of interest from a ‘gossipy’ standpoint, and be actually relevant to companies trying to compete with Twitter, it in no way measured up to the fact that it was illegally obtained. Examples like this stain the journalistic integrity of *all* practicing journalists.

      • Lukas:

        Claiming that journalists generally do not pay for information seems disingenuous. It happens all the time. Journalists pay for pictures of current events every single day; it’s perfectly normal. They pay for actual information, too, and sometimes they pay for physical goods that are related to a story – a thumb drive containing documents, or a stolen CD containing bank account information for example. What Gizmodo did was illegal, but it was not particularly unusual. The main distinguishing characteristic of this case is that they paid for something that belongs to *Apple*.

        “it was beaten into us at j-school that while it sometimes might be necessary to commit unethical or illegal acts to get a story, you had better be sure the story was worth it”

        Bingo. Gizmodo obviously decided that the story was worth it, which is hardly surprising. The public was definitely interested in the information they published (which doesn’t necessarily mean that publishing the story was in the public interest, but still). It was a huge story, and it was useful information for a lot of people.

        “In this case, while a scoop on the next iPhone might be newsworthy, it in no way matches up to the level of ‘buying stolen property.’”

        This is valid criticism. I tend to agree with it, but Gizmodo went the other way, and I think this particular case isn’t a clear black-or-white situation. And since it’s not us who have to pay the legal price but Gizmodo, I’m not really sure if it warrants much discussion whether the scoop matches up to the illegality of the deed. It may not have been worth it to you, but it was worth it to them.

        The Twitter/Techcrunch situation is a good comparison. It is in many ways similar, but I think the difference is that the Twitter documents were, as you put it, mainly of “gossipy” interest. Publishing it, like publishing the name of the guy who lost the iPhone, seems purely malicious, rather than actually useful. The next iPhone’s specification, on the other hand, is actually useful information for people currently deciding whether to buy an iPhone, or wait a few months for the next version.

        The Twitter/Techcrunch story is also a good comparison to gauge the public reaction. There was some negative feedback to Techcrunch publishing the Twitter memos, but the reaction in no way compares to the immense outrage the Gizmodo story has produced. Not because what Techcrunch did was less unethical, but simply because a lot of us Mac users reflexively run to Apple’s defense every time something like this happens, regardless of what *exactly* it was that happened.

        At any rate, both Techcrunch and all of the Gawker sites are in my .hosts file, redirected to localhost.

    • Pustoolio:

      “Why does everybody think that it is their job to personally defend Apple?”

      From reading the posts here, they are not defending Apple, they are defending logic and common sense.

  • Angel:

    “Tell me where I defended Gizmodo. Perhaps where I wrote “Giz is generally a really poor site”? Or perhaps where I wrote “they also did some really evil things”?”

    Here: “Chen was contacted by a source. He bought a device from that source as part of gathering information for an article, thereby breaking the law. Shield laws protect him from having to testify as to who the source was. Information about the source is on his computer. When investigating Chen, the police took his computers. It is thus reasonable to think that this might violate Shield laws. Whether Chen was the target doesn’t change the fact that the police took his computers which contain information about a source connected to the case.”
    Whether or not this is defending them exactly, I don’t see the point of giving your opinion about a company that you have no interest in; after all, isn’t that what we are all doing (except that, as Apple consumers, we do have some interest in the company)? Giving opinions about companies we neither own nor work for? Why take it so personally?

    “All I did was point out that the criticism of their paying for the iPhone was misguided. That’s what journalists do, they get the story, and sometimes they pay for it. If you want to criticize them, why not complain about something they did that was actually evil?”

    Again, why bother? Do you work for Gizmodo? Why do you need to publicly argue in their favor? That’s as pointless as us condemning Gizmodo when we are not employees of Apple. It’s not going to change the law’s opinion either way.

    “As somebody who has used Macs since the 80s, has owned every iPhone, and has just ordered an iPad, I would suggest that it reflects poorly on us as a group if we take criticism of Apple so personally. There are colors other than “black” and “white”; we don’t need to defend everything Apple does, and go after everybody who says something bad about Apple.”

    Does Apple’s drama with Gizmodo personally affect us? Not really. Do our opinions of Gizmodo and Apple personally affect you? Even less so, so why bother posting about them except in a self-righteous attempt to be the “voice of reason.”
    Just because people condemn what Gizmodo did does not mean that we see Apple as blameless in everything they do.
    Also, it’s an Apple blog. If people aren’t supposed to give their opinions about Apple-related news on an Apple blog because it reflects poorly on us, then what are we supposed to do?

    • Lukas:

      Okay, so you’re telling me that I defended Gizmodo where I

      1) Pointed out that they broke the law and

      2) Pointed out that it is reasonable to assume that Shield laws protect journalists from having their computers seized in certain situations

      Both points are obviously true. Neither of these two points — by any meaning of the word — “defends” Gizmodo.

      I put it to you that if you think this constitutes “defending Gizmodo”, perhaps it is not me who has a slightly twisted view of reality.

      “I don’t see the point of giving your opinion about a company that you have no interest in (…) Again, why bother? Do you work for Gizmodo? Why do you need to publicly argue in their favor?”

      I’m not doing that. I’m pointing out that you guys make us Mac users look kind of insane by constantly, reflexively coming to Apple’s defense, even when both sides have reasonable arguments, even when it is a legal matter that affects us in no way at all, even when it was actually something like *a journalist publishing information that is useful to us Mac users*.

      And yes, the fact that you guys do that does actually affect me personally.

  • J.M. Heinrichs:

    “As somebody who has used Macs since the 80s …”
    … which is otherwise the “conservative Republican voting for Sen Kerry” position. And which, being interpreted, is a Moby position: citing your use of Apple products does not bolster your defence of Gizmodo’s actions.

    Cheers

    • Lukas:

      “citing your use of Apple products does not bolster your defence of Gizmodo’s actions”

      Which is rather obviously not why I pointed out that I use Apple products. If you go back to the post where you copied my sentence, you will find out that I was responding specifically to this:

      “We don’t have to defend Apple, but we admire Apple, so we might take slights against the company a little personally.”

      My point was that you don’t have to take everything that happens to Apple personally just because you bought their products; likewise, just because somebody doesn’t reflexively defend Apple doesn’t mean he doesn’t use (or even love) their products.

      Apple is a company. They are not your big buddy. They sell you products. If you like their products, you should buy them. But you should not treat them like a close personal friend, and take everything somebody says about Apple personally.

  • bradi:

    @Lukas – Zip it. Zip, zip, ziP, ZiP, zIp….. There is logic in what you are saying, but the overall argument is still flawed. There is no “point” to your point. Rhetorically speaking, maybe if we tilt our heads and twirl our arms we can all see how “this” seems – except no one does that when actually considering events …..

    For the record: Apple doesn’t need to be defended in this discussion since all they did was alert the police to a possible crime. The parties at odds – in the drama you are so “skillfully” blah blahing about are Gizmodo and the Police. Apple is an interested party at most.

    Summing up: move on to your next point.

  • Matthew Butch:

    Wow talk about totally missing the point. First off, shield laws don’t protect a journalist from being held responsible for committing a crime OUTSIDE their jobs. So just stealing a car or murdering somebody that is not related to a story would not be covered.

    And this situation is different. They paid for a story. That is what happened. Yes, they may have received stolen goods, but first the state will have to prove they KNEW it was stolen. They even required Apple to send them a letter saying it was Apple’s. If they KNEW it was Apples, why require a letter?

    Second, everybody needs to look at the reason shield laws were put in place. They are there so that the police can’t make up a reason to go and raid a journalist’s belongs to get a story. IE “An anonymous informant says this journalist has been selling drugs, so lets go raid his computers for evidence. Oh, and if we so happen to find sources for the cop who has been whistle blowing about our department’s corruption, that’s just a complete coincidence”.

    People are fools to think that can’t happen, because they DO. Cops have killed people over bad drug warrants to get their land. THAT is why shield laws are in place- to protect the integrity of the press. Since this CLEARLY was about a story, the shield law DOES apply, and Gizmodo should be cleared. They did nothing wrong, and should be applauded for pursuing this story.

    (And as a disclosure, I’m a huge Apple fan, but I don’t believe they are perfect. Re: App Store issues.)

    • Zak:

      The shield law does not apply in this case. Jason Chen committed at least one felony by buying stolen property, and the shield law does not protect journalists if they willingly commit crimes.

      It’s pretty much that simple. Please note that this would be an entirely different story if Gizmodo has simply taken pics of the phone and reported on it. But since they BOUGHT it, they broke the law and the shield law does not apply to them after that point.

      In this scenario, where Gizmodo bought stolen property, where is the “integrity of the press” you’re talking about?

  • Owen:

    Where else but silicon valley would law enforcement spend tens of thousands of dollars to help a company get back a lost cell phone? Imagine if, say, Motorola asked the New York Police Department to help them recover a lost cell phone? I could hear the chuckling all the way up to Rhode Island.

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