Thoughts on Gizmodo, the iPhone and the police

It boils down to this: Does the San Mateo District Attorney’s office believe that Gizmodo Editor Jason Chen committed a crime by buying a prototype iPhone for $5,000?

If they do, then the California shield law Chen’s bosses at Gawker Media are citing won’t do them much good. Because the law doesn’t give journalists the ability to commit crimes.

But if authorities are really pursuing the guy who sold Chen the phone, then the shield law should protect Chen and his employers. Because keeping the cops from busting down your door so they can uncover your sources is one of the things the shield law is supposed to do.

That’s about it. Really.


Good piece, and I agree.

There are other points the author discusses, but to me the thrust of the issue is not “blogger vs. journalist”, it’s “commit felony vs. not”. I’m not surprised Gizmodo wants to make this a flag-waving freedom of the press issue, but I’m disappointed in how easily many have fallen for it. We simply don’t know that yet.

Further, I’m surprised at how quickly Gawker’s legal counsel — an obviously biased party — is believed when she states the warrant was illegal, and how little credence is given to the judge who actually signed the thing.

I don’t like the idea of anyone coming home to find their house being searched and property confiscated. In that regard you’ll find no schadenfreude here. However, if the police suspect a felony was committed — and Gizmodo’s own posts and tweets on the subject practically brag about it — that’s how the system works. That’s how the system is supposed to work. And there’s no shield for a journalist in that case.