Police come calling for blogger who leaked new iPhone

Law questioned after technology writer is arrested over 4G handset 'find'

Police have raided the home of a blogger who revealed details of Apple's fourth generation iPhone ahead of its unveiling by the computer giant's chief executive, Steve Jobs, this summer.

Officers from California's Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team smashed down Jason Chen's door on Friday night and seized computers, servers, cameras, phones and a credit card. His car was also searched outside his home in Fremont, California, when he arrived to find forensic teams at work inside.

It emerged yesterday that anti-computer crime detectives in Silicon Valley are investigating whether Mr Chen was guilty of committing a felony after he came into possession of the prototype which was said to have been left on a bar stool at Redwood City, California, near Apple's campus headquarters in Cupertino, by one of the company's software engineers.

The leading tech site Gizmodo, which published the details and for which Mr Chen is an editor and blogger, is understood to have paid $5,000 (£3,270) to an intermediary for the device, before publishing a story about the device online, gaining itself one of the web's biggest scoops of the year and attracting millions of hits.

But now the story is focusing on whether the warrant, issued by a Superior Court judge in San Mateo County last week, contradicts California's laws, which protect journalists from having to reveal their sources or disclose unpublished materials to the authorities. Gawker Media, which owns New York-based Gizmodo, has written to the police, questioning whether they have breached the so-called "shield laws" and demanding that seized possessions be returned.

Nick Denton, the former Financial Times journalist who is Gawker's chief executive, said the case could prove to be a test to see if online writers were covered by the same safety net as their print and broadcast colleagues. "Are bloggers journalists? I guess we'll find out," he said in an email.

Apple, which is riding high after the successful launch of the iPad, has remained tight-lipped. California law prohibits a person using someone else's property without permission. San Mateo County district attorney Stephen Wagstaffe suggested that this meant there could be a case of "misappropriation of lost property", adding: "It's a crime but it's not theft."

After Mr Chen revealed details of the new design, complete with photographs and a video, a senior legal executive at the technology giant wrote to the website, asking for it back. The phone was mislaid by a 27-year-old employee who was out celebrating his birthday. It was identified as something unusual by another drinker at the bar. The finder allegedly tried to contact Apple through its customer telephone line but was not believed.

Some bloggers have already pondered whether the police action reflects Mr Jobs's support for "old media" companies, such as newspapers and TV, rather than the burgeoning blogosphere. Alex Moore, blogging on the Death + Taxes website, said: "More interesting is the philosophical question this raises about Apple's relationship to technology: does Steve Jobs hate blogs?"

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

    £17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

    Recruitment Genius: Software Consultant / 1st Line Support

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As your knowledge grows you wil...

    Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Linux - Central London

    £40000 - £48000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Linux ...

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Support and Sales Engineer - UC / M2M / IoT

    £20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of Cloud ...

    Day In a Page

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk