DA pauses Gizmodo iPhone investigation to review journalist shield law after police seize computers

Wall Street Journal Digits
Police raided the home of Gizmodo editor Jason Chen who last week wrote about a prototype next-generation Apple iPhone. The blog paid $5,000 for the phone after a customer in a California bar found it left behind by an Apple engineer. Jennifer Valentino-DeVries at The Wall Street Journal reports police served a warrant that indicates they were likely pursuing an investigation into whether the prototype phone was stolen, not lost as reported.

“Gizmodo posted warrants related to the Friday search that allege the computers were ‘used as the means of committing a felony’ and tend ‘to show that a felony has been committed or that a particular person has committed a felony.’ “

Gizmodo quickly responded to the warrant, claiming it was illegal under California’s journalist shield law.

“Gawker Media, which owns Gizmodo, responded to the seizure with a letter stating that ‘under both state and federal law, a search warrant may not be validly issued to confiscate the property of a journalist.’ … The question now is whether the rule will apply to a blog and whether it extends to a journalist who purchases stolen or lost goods.”

Police are saying that they will hold, but not investigate, Chen’s computers and other seized evidence until the shield law question is further examined and resolved by the San Mateo County District Attorney.

>Expert: Invalid Warrant Used in Raid on iPhone Reporter’s Home (Wired.com Threat Level)
>iPhone Leak Investigation Pauses As DA Ponders Gizmodo Shield Law Defense (TechCrunch)
>Misconduct accusations stall iPhone prototype investigation (Electronista)
>Police Raid Gizmodo Editor’s House, Seize Computers in Connection With iPhone Leak (Fast Company)
>Police Seize Jason Chen’s Computers (Gizmodo)
>Apple’s Aggression Against the Press (CJR)

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