What a difference a week makes. Last week at this time, millions of people were watching Gizmodo’s Jason Chen show off Apple’s next generation iPhone. Now, Gizmodo is reporting that California’s Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team entered Chen’s home on Friday evening, with a warrant of course, where they proceeded to confiscate four computers and two servers.
Late last week we reported that the Silicon Valley Police were conducting an investigation to determine if criminal charges would be appropriate in light of Gizmodo’s $5,000 purchase of a prototype iPhone. At the time, it was unclear if the investigation was being centered on Gizmodo or the individual who actually sold them the iPhone, or both. Now it appears that the Police have Gizmodo in their sights.
And just when you thought things couldn’t get more contentious, Gaby Darbyshire, who serves as Gawker Media’s COO and legal counsel, is arguing that the raid on Chen’s home was illegal because the search warrants obtained by the Computer Task Force don’t apply to journalists and their possessions.
Darbyshire cites section 1524(g) of the California Penal Code which states”
No warrant shall issue for any item or items described in Section 1070 of the Evidence Code.
Section 1070 reads in part:
A publisher, editor, reporter, or other person connected with or employed upon a newspaper, magazine, or other periodical publication, or by a press association or wire service, or any person who has been so connected or employed, cannot be adjudged in contempt by a judicial, legislative, administrative body, or any other body having the power to issue subpoenas, for refusing to disclose, in any proceeding as defined in Section 901, the source of any information procured while so connected or employed for publication in a newspaper, magazine or other periodical publication, or for refusing to disclose any unpublished information obtained or prepared in gathering, receiving or processing of information for communication to the public.
This of course presumes that the warrant was carried out as a direct result of Chen’s refusal to reveal the name of the iPhone 4G seller to the police. There is no evidence, however, that this is the case.
On the contrary, the warrant, which can be viewed on Gizmodo’s site, indicates that it was issued because Chen’s house is a location where a felony was committed, thereby making the premises and all areas within subject to search and seizure.