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back to article Apple, the iPhone 4G, the cops and the click-tart

Impressive. A not insignificant section of the intertubes is holding Apple entirely responsible for a brutal, paramilitary-style dawn raid by heavily-armed cops (we exaggerate, before they do) on the lovely home of peaceful citizen and Gizmodo editor Jason Chen. And all we actually know that Apple has done is first, ask Gizmodo …

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Coat

Must be worth ...

I reckon that phone is powered by nuclear fusion

It probably will muster enough energy to be attached to a spacecraft and power it all the way around the universe.

And the ability to play MAME metal slug 5 of course.

can't wait !!

worth the jail too !!

go Chen

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Flame

You missed one possibility

If I found the phone I would have recognised it for what it was and called Apple. Same for any techie out there. I would have never returned it to the bar manager for the simple reason that I actually understand its value to the employer of the owner.

So trying to return the phone to Apple was the expected thing to do. At least for a phone lost in Silly Valley. It is one of the places where the odds are better than 1:2 that the person picking it up would recognise what it is,

Further to this, selling it to gismodo smacks of a typical "act of revenge" after dealing with Apple's helldesk. Knowing the type of scripted idiocy which runs supreme in such places nowdays I cannot blame him. If the person was really malicious he would have called Nokia or Google's Nexus product managers and sold it to them on the qt.

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FAIL

Act of revenge

Can't say I think the defence of "it was an act of revenge cos I got pissed off with a call centre" would work...

Person was looking for a quick buck. If you buy the story that he couldn't get past the Apple call centre, what makes you think that he could get past Nokia or Googles - who incidentally would take corporate espionage pretty seriously, even ignoring the fact that Apple had already remotely self destructed the important bits (what it does with the hardware - hardware features are the usual Apple sub-standard) and are probably about 2 months away from productionised versions.

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Stop

Round of applause!

A big hand for El Reg for giving the Lord Jobs even more free publicity for his Muppet-Mobile!

The Apple ad-men must be wetting themselves over this one, either that or they are now all down at the local Ferarri/Lamborghini dealerships looking at what their bonuses will get them at the end of the year!

Right for the final time:

1. Idiot loses test phone he was trusted with!

2. Another idiot finds phone and makes idiotic attempt to give phone back!

3. Another idiot buys phone from 2nd idiot for idiotic amount of money!

4. 3rd idiot blabs to the world about what the first idiots have done, including the idiotic company that trusted the first idiot with the damn thing!!

5. Every single phone worshipping idiot on the internet cannot stop talking about what 3 idiots have done in the US over a fricking lost mobile phone!!! ( Including me now, FFS!! )

For the love of Jobs, can we please just stop talking about it now, please?

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FAIL

Just another anonymous iPhone refusnik

seriously, get a fucking life already.

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Unhappy

They should have handed it over to apple.

The "finder" should have taken it apart taken detailed pictures, anonymously return the device to apple and then sold the pictures.

Or the journalist should have examined the device (taking pictures in the process) and then promptly returned the device to Apple once they convinced themselves that it was Apple's property.

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I'm Sorry

But does anyone actually give a toss?

It's another apple story <yawn> the reg seems fixated on them at the mo.

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Re: I'm Sorry

Yeah, I noticed at one point last week that 4 out of the 5 top stories on the front page were about Apple. Who's the click-tart now Reg?

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Good Read

You might even get let back into Apple's circle of chums now.

Ha ha. Ha ha ha. Ha ha ha haaaaaa *choke*

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Who gives a shit?

Not me.

Please stop compelling me to read these stories about the iArrest

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Coat

You do?

You read the article and felt compelled to reply....just like we all have...I feel so dirty now....

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Anonymous Coward

Police

Is it possible that the police had made an appointment, as you sugest, and had come round to find no-one in. Asuming that this was an attempt either to evade them, or be clever, they gained entry to the house?

It is quight possible that they did, on the basis that this is not a major crime.

Also, WTF do the EFF have to do with this? They are getting like Amnesty, starting with high ideals, but ending up sticking there nose in to anything and everything to score points.

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Well

I have to say I agree with you entirely - it's obvious that a crime was committed, so surely if the requirement was still to get a subpoena first, that would say that Jouirnalists were less accountable for theft?

And of course the line is difficult to draw - I have a blog, could I claim the same protection?

Mind, I'm no lawyer, nor american, so it's possible that the law really IS that daft....

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Actually

It's not obvious a crime has been committed.

First, despite what our fellow commentards have been saying there is no evidence that the device was stolen from the guy in the bar.

Second, although Gizmodo *claim* they paid $5000 for the device, we don't yet know if there is any evidence that they actually did. Sometimes news people make that stuff up, you know. Also, even though California law makes it illegal to buy something you know not to belong to the person selling it, it's not clear how that would apply if the money was actually paid as a "finder's fee" and the property is returned to the actual owner.

Sure, the various parties probably could have (should have) handled things differently, but they didn't.

Personally, I think the guy who "found" it should have taken it to the police after the owner bricked it instead of just calling and asking for it back /and/ after Apple denied ownership.

I also think that Apple could have headed this off by just putting a sticker with a phone number and reference, asking you to call the number and quote the reference. It's not rocket science, my work pass has that, it allows for the return of the pass without saying where it gives access to, all calls just go to a central helpdesk.

I can see this ending up as a lawsuit of semantics.

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Woo

Thank you, the keening self-regard of every Gawker Media outlet over the last few days has been enough to make you want to punch babies. Nice to hear a somewhat down-to-earth sceptical view from someone, however minor.

Now, coffee time.

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pft

It seems to me that since they had already published the name of their "source," any attempts to then hide behind laws put in place to protect journalistic integrity are on very shaky ground. I think the warrant will stand.

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Really?

Apple part owns a police force.

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Voice of reason

Thanks for the even handed summary of events. Don't be surprised when accusations that The Reg is part of the conspiracy start to fly.

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Stop

Perspective

Super secret new iPhone or not... It's still JUST A PHONE!!! lol

Honestly a bit overkill if you ask me

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Solid and Informative

A Reg article about Apple with no gratuitous digs? Fascinating.

A balanced take on a story that seems to have a lot of people in a tizzy. Well done.

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Being a prerelease or prototype unit,

I'll speculate that the phone has a sticker on it saying "Property of Apple, and not of the guy who left it in a bar." So you'd phone Apple.

Do you remember the General Motors electric car "scandal"? California made a law saying that GM HAD to make an electric car if they were to be allowed to sell ANY cars in the state. So they made electric cars but didn't sell 'em, they were leased. And as soon as the law got changed so that you DIDN'T have to make electric cars, GM took 'em all back and buried them in a pyramid of radioactive slag on a Native American burial ground. With a stake through the battery.

And while they were still around, you didn't own your own car.

At least according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Motors_EV1

(I haven't written the part about the Native American burial ground yet)

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Badgers

So here's a question...

Muppet leaves phone in bar, Fraggle picks it up, goes "Yo, anyone know whose this is?" No answer comes the stern reply. Fraggle puts phone in pocket planning to try and return it.

Fraggle gets home. Apple deactivate the phone, Fraggle contacts Apple, Apple deny the phone exists.

So here's the question - if Apple deny the object exists, how can they then jump up and down and scream criminal behaviour when their "bluff" is called? They refused return of the phone. I also disagree that the guy's approach to returning the phone was "unobvious", but admittedly I don't know the timescales - did Apple deactivate the unit before or after he tried to return it?

If you don't know who owns the phone, have no way of contacting them, who better to ask than the people likely to have User Registration Details?

Interesting article, shame the pro-Apple/anti-Gizmodo bias is quite so obvious, and it's a shame that Apple's ability to influence REACT is so heavily underplayed. Reality is when an organisation the size of Apple says "we'd like you to do x, y, z", heavily underfunded, inresourced groups do tend to listen. It's not just Apple that wields that power, it's any insanely large company.

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WTF?

What are you gibbering about?!

>"Fraggle gets home. Apple deactivate the phone, Fraggle contacts Apple, Apple deny the phone exists." Calling Applecare isn't getting in touch with Apple. It's calling Apple care. Why didn't the Fraggle hand it in at the bar? Why didn't the fraggle surrender it to the police?

>"So here's the question - if Apple deny the object exists, how can they then jump up and down and scream criminal behaviour when their "bluff" is called? " They aren't though.

>"They refused return of the phone." They didn't though!

>" I also disagree that the guy's approach to returning the phone was "unobvious", but admittedly I don't know the timescales - did Apple deactivate the unit before or after he tried to return it?" You can disagree all you like, doesn't make you right! The honest thing to do would have been to hand it in to the bar or the police! Simple. As. That! As to whether or not Apple tried to deactivate the unit prior to the--lets say what the the individual concerned really it--* thief* tried to "contact" them is irrelevant. The thief had already looked at the engineers Facebook info--if I were him, I'd be changing all my various log-in/passwords and bank details.

>"If you don't know who owns the phone, have no way of contacting them, who better to ask than the people likely to have User Registration Details?" Again, the thief knew the owners NAME!!! The thief looked at his Facebook info! The thief *should* have handed it over to the authorities! End. Of.

Accusing the Reg of being "Pro Apple" is just about the funniest thing I've read on these pages! They are *FAMOUSLY* antagonistic towards Apple--have you not noticed that most headlines for articles about Apple contain the words FANBOIS!? (and breathe)...

Next time, check the facts before posting your drivel. Facts will ALWAYS out-way the opines of deluded fanbois/haters, and in this case they are pratically incontrovertible. No matter how much you hate Apple, you opinion is just plain wrong...

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Go

Things have reach a prety pass...

...when El Reg is the one publishing the calm and reasoned account.

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Happy

Even handed

Nice work.

An excellent even-handed reading of the events. I had to keep checking the URL to make sure I was still on El Reg as I didn't expect anything as well-presented and unbiased as this. It read like it was presented by looking at the facts, instead of taking sides and fitting it to a pre-determined narrative.

I suspect the comments, however, will be a hotbed of uninformed name-calling on both sides. I can't wait!

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FAIL

Silly Gawkers

Is it just me, or could Gizmodo have avoided this sorry mess by paying for the story instead of the phone?

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Coat

Are you sure...

...it was the police who raided?

Or was it just iPlod?

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MnM

Silly Gawkers +1

so paying for the tat broke a rule, but as they clearly intended to return it, how bad can the penalty be? That's surely a huge mitigating factor. Slapped wrist at worst, methinks (but IANAL, let alone American, let alone Californian). I guess it may take at least one appeal for sense to prevail.

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I agree...

Let the punishment fit the crime. Let's not forget that this is essentially petty theft and fencing stolen goods; however there is potential damage to Apple as it's competitors have been handed an advantage, perhaps unwittingly, *by* Gizmodo. If I was a competitor, I'd have my people all over the Gizmodo articles just to see what advantages I could gain--if I were Apple, I'd expect them too, we all live in the real world after all! But that's for after the criminal case--Apples legal team will be waiting with baited breath for the verdict. The punitive measures should be mild for Chen, litter picking around Infinite Loop and a very public admission of being a silly chap, along with an apology to Apple from Gawker. The thief that sold it to him *should* be punished as harshly as any other thief however--a couple of months porridge should do.

A guilty verdict, if the case is brought to trial, could potential set an interesting precedent. Gawker media AFAIK are the only media outlet to actively pursue actual photos or prototypes--especially from Apple. The question is are they guilty of inciting a crime?

Kudos to El Reg for publicly taking the moral high-ground. Whether or not you like Apple, Gawkers actions have left a bad taste--especially the numpties that are claiming that this is an Apple PR stunt...

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FAIL

WTF?

I can't help thinking that breaking the door down is serious overkill for one crappy phone.

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Jobs Halo

"...overkill for one crappy phone"

Didn't you read the article? It was an iPhone 4G belonging to Steve Jobs!

He's lucky he didn't have the Green Berets kicking his door in!

DE OPPRESSO LIBER!

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Reimbursement

It's worth pointing out the police reimbursed Chen for the damage to the door.

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Silver badge

Bah!

I'm sure that's a great comfort.

Did they call a carpenter to effect repairs or just, you know, try and tell the owner they'd torn the door lock out of the frame, bent the hinges and so on and that he could call such-and-such a 1-800 number and submit a claim for damage?

I also hope it wasn't a custom-made door because, well, it's so hard to convince the local government that they should pay what it will cost to replace the damaged item rather than some spreadsheeted "estimated" value baselined from what was available at Home Depot five to ten years ago...

It's funny how a burglar can get a door open with little damage, but the police felt that in these circumstances the same operational parameters as would be proper for surprising a well-armed drug gang counting out their ill-gotten gains.

Reimbursing someone for damage to property in cases like these is the bare minimum that any innocent until proven guilty citizen should expect.

Caveat:

Not defending the idiot who took apart what was obviously not his property and posted pictures on the web in a vainglorious display of industrial espionage, just pointing out that knocking in a person's front door in this case isn't a mere inconvenience, more a blatant display of unnecessary force.

There are no good guys in this story.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Reimbursement

Oh well, that's alright then.

I'd be more than happy about that myself...not.

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g e
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Surely it wasn't stolen..

It was lost or discarded.

Otherwise when you pick up anything lost or discarded by anyone else you're a thief under law?

This *is* US law though... maybe it becomes theft if the person who lost or discarded the item decides they want it back.

Maybe Apple should kick in the door of the guy that mislaid it.

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WTF?

Finders keeers,

losers weepers.

What makes this item so special it warrants anything more than an ignore from the police? They took it out in public and lost it, someone found it and tried to turn it in. How much effort must that person go to before he's allowed to just keep the damn thing? Essentially, they have said, "keep it, we don't want it back."

Turning this item into something special that then requires the finder to go to some extraordinary effort to put it back in the hands of the original owner smacks of utter stupidity - I mean, how does one conclude it is one of those "special" items that I must spend the rest of my life ensuring this item finds it way into hands such that I am not considered a thief any longer?

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Californian law

http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/cacode/PEN/3/1/13/5/s485

"One who finds lost property under circumstances which give him knowledge of or means of inquiry as to the true owner, and who appropriates such property to his own use, or to the use of another person not entitled thereto, without first making reasonable and just efforts to find the owner and to restore the property to him, is guilty of theft."

It's been established the phone's finder didn't tell the bar staff he had the phone, didn't tell the police, and only called first line Apple tech support. Given that, do you think he made a "reasonable and just effort" to return it? Many people think he didn't and that a reasonable person would either leave his contact details or the phone itself with the bar staff. This is where the theft aspect comes from.

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Anonymous Coward

Not the moment you touch it, no.

I don't think you become a thief the moment you handle the lost thing. It's theft (or somesuch) if it clearly has some value, hasn't obviously been discarded or given away and you fail to make a reasonable effort to return it to the owner. Handing it in at a police station for example. Or, if you know the name of the chap (because, perhaps, you might have tried using the thing and by doing so you found it out), know where he works and even know his facebook profile you could try contacting him directly.

If you merely wanted to cover your arse you might just try phoning the helpdesk of the huge company he works at and talking vaguely about a lost item of something manufactured by the company in huge numbers. Then take the first answer the junior help desk person mumbles and slam the phone down. A judge might take a dim view.

Not sure of details but I think both UK and USA have laws along these lines and they've been outlined in the register. If only you and I spent more time researching and less time posting, eh?

If you're worried about being branded a thief (legally or morally), you can avoid it by taking any lost things of value you find to the police station. If you can't get there straight away you could call them to let them know you'll drop by soon (the call log will support you if you are accused of thievery in the meantime). If the owner can't be found or doesn't want it back I think the police give it to you. Unless it is a buried saxon hoard in which case the queen or someone has a shout.

I'm not a legal or constitutional expert, btw, but this being the interwebs and all I thought I'd post instead of research or think. As did you.

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Badgers

Re: Surely it wasn't stolen..

You're right, it was lost and then found. That bit wasn't stealing it. It became theft when rather than handing it in to the bartender or the local police station the finder decided to sell it to someone else for $5000. I'm sure the law is no different in the UK. If you found someone's wallet on the street and then started buying things on their credit card it wouldn't be much of a defence to claim that it's the owner fault for discarding it.

As for why this is even a story, it's a lot bigger than The Register reporting any old gossip that happens to mention Apple, or a trivial story about some guy who happens to lose a phone. It touches on a lot of important issues to do with freedom of speech, how far journalists should be protected and so on, and mainstream news organisations such as the BBC, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, CNN etc are reporting it also.

I suspect Gawker are going to get in a certain amount of trouble for this. If it's ok to pay someone for a stolen prototype, is it ok to pay someone to break in and steal it? On the other hand, there are plenty of cases where the tabloid press have paid for things like stolen photos or letters belonging to celebrities, so it's not obvious where the line is drawn. That's what makes this an interesting case.

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WTF?

So, give the obligation to someone else?

If this had been an ordinary phone, what would a "reasonable and just effort" be to return the phone?

I understand what California law reads, but I contend this phone is being treated differently than an ordinary phone. Calling the owner of the phone directly in my opinion is "reasonable and just effort" - what the hell else is one supposed to do?

Why is *this* phone treated differently and why is it up to the finder to know it's a special phone? Taking it outside the secret lab, out of your pocket in a bar would indicate this phone is an ordinary phone, nothing more, nothing less.

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"extraordinary effort"? Don't you just take it to the cop shop?

Round these parts you drop it off at the nick and leave your details. Then an eccentric rich lady comes in to claim it and rewards you beyond your wildest dreams. Then you pair up and fight crimes together.

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Anonymous Coward

Duty of the finder

Californian law seems quite clear about the duty of the finder in a case like this:

"(a) If the owner is unknown or has not claimed the property, the person saving or finding the property shall, if the property is of the value of one hundred dollars ($100) or more, within a reasonable time turn the property over to the police department of the city or city and county, if found therein, or to the sheriff's department of the county if found outside of city limits, and shall make an affidavit, stating when and where he or she found or saved the property, particularly describing it."

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The owner was *known* and *contacted*

I don't see where this applies. The owner was known and contacted and refused to take the item. The law you quote covers when the owner is not known and doesn't claim the item.

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Anonymous Coward

The owner was *known* but had not claimed the property

The law quoted doesn't state anything about whether the owner was contacted, it states: "If the owner is unknown or has not claimed the property." So in this case the owner was known but had not claimed the property, therefore this duty may apply (notice that the word "or" is used not "and").

It doesn't seem unreasonable that if you find valuable lost property that you should hand it over to the police if your own attempts to hand it over to owner have failed. If the police were unable to return it to the owner then it would become the property of the finder. It is unlikely that the police wouldn't be able to return it Apple within 90 days and even if they couldn't the next generation iPhone may already have been released by then and so a prototype wouldn't be as valuable.

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@GE

But if you pick up something lost, and then sell it for a substantial sum of money, I'm fairly sure it can be reasonably interpreted as theft. To be honest I doubt they tried that hard to return it either - or else he wouldn't have charged Gizmowhatist so much now would he... If he didn't know it was anything but a phone.

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Guaranteed to piss off both Apple and Gawker fanboys...

...which is how you know this was a well-written, even handed piece, as well as a digestable summary of the story so far. Bravo.

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Jobs Horns

Not Stolen

My perspective is a bit different. Apple (representative) looses phone due to own incompetence. After the finder makes a (half hearted) attempt to return it, he determines it's abandoned property. He sells it to an interested party. That party publishes pictures of the phone, and then is asked to return it - it's returned. Summary: Apple looses phone, dude finds it, blogger pays to acquire it - then returns it free.

Frankly, if it hadn't been for the pantsing that Apple took, Gizmodo did Apple a service. They located and returned Apples misplaced property - at their own expense!

Apples response to getting their phone back? To sick the police and legal system on everyone involved in it's being found and returned. Why? Because their ad department got scooped. Sorry, but that strikes me as viciously vindictive.

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WTF?

Mister Meaner, Miss Demeanor or Fellow Nie

It's a phone, even if it were a stolen phone how does it rise to felony. At worst this is a misdemeanor and not a felony. Seriously, wouldn't this count under California's 3 strikes law? I believe it would and since strikes are based on charges instead of cases it's possible that this could be inflated to two felony charges and result in two strikes simultaneously if found guilty on both. But hey, at least it's nothing serious like running a toll.

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Felony

Buying stolen goods is only a misdemeanor below a certain value; $800 IIRC. Gizmodo paid $5000 for the phone, by their own admission, so it becomes a felony.

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Anonymous Coward

It was sold for $5000

The *value* is the reason the police and DA have taken an interest. Both Apples legal counsel and the developer that lost device have reported it as stolen. The thieves have identified and practically indited themselves! This is a quick, high profile win for the local PD and DA. There have been reports that the device was taken over state lines once it was *illegally* sold, which would take it from felony to a federal felony, this isn't petty theft.

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