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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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Alert

Erm

Subjective value != actual value. Stealing my $10 watch doesn't become a felony just because it was a gift from my dead grandfather that I would gladly give $5000 to get back.

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Actual Value

So how much do you think a prototype phone is worth? I can bet Apple can show that this pre-production prototype is woth a hell of as lot more than $5000. They probably spent millions developing it and only have a few hundred actual phones.

Or do you think a custom hand built racing car is worth the same as Ford Focus, because they are both "just cars"?

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Silver badge

Bah!

Well, by the twisty chains of "logic" that are being bandied about in this sorry affair, aren't the Apple hotline culpable for not suggesting that the "worthless Chinese knockoff" be handed in at the nearest police station in the first place?

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WTF?

Why so disinterested in the conflict of interest?

"Well yes - Newport Beach police aren't going on a wild goose chase every time some drunk SEO guru reports his phone stolen.

But if Apple reports a secret prototype iPhone 4G lost or stolen (presumably when they reported it they mentioned it wasn't an ordinary phone), then it does seem logical that the cops would be interested"

You think the police should switch from disinterest to sending in a rapid response team, simply because the complainant works for Apple. Why the sycophancy reg? Exactly how would this double standard be understandable, or serve the public interest?

"It has been mentioned (by Gawker Media boss Nick Denton, among others) that Apple is on the steering committee of R.E.A.C.T., but it's one of 25 tech companies on that committee, and if a task force is going to have such a steering committee, then it seems entirely reasonable that Apple be on it."

Whether or not it is reasonable that Apple is on this committee is irrelevant. It still seems like a strong explanation for the double standard mentioned above, which amounts to a private company controlling the police. This doesn't worry you?

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Black Helicopters

You think that's strong?

"It still seems like a strong explanation for the double standard mentioned above, "

Another possible explanation:

Minor-leage law enforcement bureaucrat working on some makework 'tech taskforce' suddenly finds that one of the highest-profile tech stories circulating in all the media is about some twerp located on their doorstep who has:

-committed a crime

-posted all the details it on the internet

-clearly identified themselves

and basically done everything short of turning up at the local police station with their hands cuffed behind their back, wearing a prison jumpsuit, with a signed confession (witnessed and countersigned by an notary) stapled to their forehead.

Bureaucrat thinks - 'ooh, this will be a nice talking point on my next set of status updates, budget applications and promotion interviews. It won't even take any actual work'. A few phone calls and an arrest ensue.

Now which is the more likely explanation?

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By the end of it I simply concluded that

"felony" is a bloody silly word. Second only to "misdemeanor".

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WTF?

Trying to get invited???

You have been way too nice to Apple! (I am not saying your logic is wrong... just that this is not standard el Reg fare.) Are you guys trying to get invited to the next Apple shindig? Armageddon is coming!!!

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Bronze badge
Joke

Filthy lucre

" We don't criticise him [Denton] for paying for stories - we don't do that ourselves,"

Oh well, I guess someone else'll get my exclusive Nexus 2 handset, as found in the sofa at a Mountain View lap dancing club....

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Boffin

Apple filed a false police report

If Apple really did file a report that their iPhone was stolen, then they should be nailed for filing a false police report. A crime in California.

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Anonymous Coward

However .....

If the guy who lost it had told them it was stolen, then they would be in the right.

Also once Gizmondo announed they had the phone, and Apple realised no approach had been made to them (as others have pointed out a half hearted call to Apple Care is not the same as contacting Apple's main switchboard and trying to actually return the phone) then it did become a case of theft.

Anonymous only because a colleague at work did a search on my 'Net moniker, found an afternoon of postings to here, followed by my realisation my boss could do the same.

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call to apple

The gizmodo article does not say which phone number he used to contact Apple so your statement "a half hearted call to Apple Care is not the same as contacting Apple's main switchboard and trying to actually return the phone" is speculation.

IMO If you have realised that the phone is obviously a prototype then Apple is the owner, not the poor sod who lost it in the first place, and a direct call to them thru their official channels is the best most direct effort he can make, (seemingly more of an attempt than just handing it in to a police station so it can sit in a locker for a few months)

He then got in contact with gizmodo who (I would presume) are in a much better state to get Apple to pay attention. Also we don't know what gizmodo paid him for: an interview, finders fee or 'stolen' property. (No don't bother quoting the exact wording of the article, editorial composed to sound interesting and conforming to their informal style does not constitute a formal admission of guilt or statement of facts.)

Saying all that if I had found it I would have handed it in to the bar.

Seems like a lot of commentards stating their opinion as fact.

>Anonymous only because a colleague ..

Thats... quite a good point actually!

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Disingenuous

You mentioned Danny Sullivan saying no one would be interested if he reported his phone stolen.

If he could point to a web page where someone admits to having purchased his stolen phone then you could be sure the police would investigate.

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FAIL

Contacting the owner

It's disingenuous in the extreme to suggest that calling a generic Apple help line constitutes a reasonable attempt to contact the owner. What the obvious thing to do you do if you find a N95 on the floor of a bar? Perhaps hit redial, or look in the address book for an entry called "Home" or "Mum"... or call Nokia in Finland? Or most obviously still, ask the owner of the bar if anyone has lost a phone? The poor guy who lost it was frantically calling and visiting the bar 3 or 4 times a day, so it would have taken all of five minutes to get it back to the owner if that's seriously what the finder was trying to do, rather than doing something he knew was guaranteed to fail in a feeble effort to cover his ass.

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Thumb Down

Response to the above

I find your suggestion that contacting the owner isn't enough. When is enough? When you say, or when I say? I think he followed the letter of the law, just because you think he hasn't done enough, doesn't mean he didn't follow the letter of the law.

I'm curious (haven't read anything about this) - Why didn't he ring his *own* number?

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Go

2 things

1 - Clarification on "stolen", if I find £20 on the floor, I think woop, it's not really possible to find out whose it is so I'll keep it. If I find a phone / laptop etc, it's pretty simple to return them. Even if you can't be bothered going through the phone book to contact them, hand it in to the police and they will return it. So personally, if it can be returned and you don't, you're a thief.

2 - Is a blogger a journalist? I'd say no, as I have a facebook account full of sh*t I wrote, does that make me a journalist, no. There should be some sort of media licence (if there isn't already).

Conclusion. The lad who found the phone is a thief and the person he sold it to bought stolen goods and a warrant is fine to raid his house :)

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FAIL

What a conclusion!

1) he contacted the owner, he didn't steal it.

2) Gizmodo is online media.

Conclusion - stay out of law enforcement, you'd scare the hell out of me with your Ross Perot conclusions justifying breaking everyone's door down! With logic like yours, anything is possible.

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Anonymous Coward

Your knowledge is even scarier though

As soon as it was sold on to Gizmodo it became theft, and regardless of whether they are classed as reporters or not, it's still handling stolen property.

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FAIL

Theft on what grounds?

If you try and return an item to its legal owner and they refuse to accept the item, the item becomes yours and you can do whatever you bloody well want to do with it, including sellng it to someone else.

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Jobs Horns

Trade Secrets

Gizmodo is a real periodical with real journalists working for it.

The issue here is not about a stolen phone. It's about stolen trade secrets. The charges really might stick.

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Coat

A NJ Judge says a blogger is not a journalist

I can't agree with the reasoning and the California court is not bound by it but I am sure they will look at it.

http://stkarnick.com/culture/2010/04/28/a-troubling-precedent-nj-court-says-bloggers-are-not-journalists/

Mine is the one with the obsolete iPhone

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Headmaster

To Gizmodo bloggers...

Hi, I'm a journalist.

According your your interpretation of the law, I can just take your car!

KTHNXBAI

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FAIL

Pay for Photos

Yup, stupid to buy a phone when you could just pay for photos of it or send one of your journalists around and pay for access to the guys house and incidentally take some nice hi res pictures of the phone.

I don't really see what they gained in buying the physical phone, except a legal nightmare.

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Grenade

Double standards

What pisses me off is the way everybody's conflating the possible theft of an object with the leaking of Apple's trade secrets. Probably Gizmodo shouldn't taken it to bits, but Apple got it back in the end. That ever happen when you lose a phone? The theft, if it ever occurred, was minor.

The big deal is that someone got one over on Apple's corporate secrecy, and THAT ISN'T A CRIME. The cops, even those bought by Silicon Valley, should know that.

(BTW - why didn't Apple put a big sticker on it saying 'if found call XXX-XXXX?' )

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Alert

Re: Double standards

Actually, California does have laws to protect trade secrets, so publishing things like schematics, customer lists etc. which are genuine trade secrets *is* illegal. That's not what Gizmodo are being investigated for however, which is for receiving stolen goods. As to whether the offence is minor or not, it's no more or less minor than, say, a crooked pawn shop paying a burglar cash for jewellry they know is stolen.

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Coat

Time to look out of the window for flying pigs

This has to be almost a first, most Apple fanbois and haters are agreeing with each other, time to look out for the four horsemen of the apocalypse.

Nice balanced article btw, where's the real Reg gone :p

Anonymous only because a colleague at work did a search on my 'Net moniker, found an afternoon of postings to here, followed by my realisation my boss could do the same.

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Jobs Horns

Police state & strange story

The US is a corporate police state. That is pretty clear.

What is not so clear to me : The guy that found the phone was clued-up enough to know it is a prototype and to know who to contact (wired, gawker) for a juicy deal; he was sly enough to think of that, but he wasn't clued-up and sly enough to put the phone offline (remove SIM card, turn off wifi) so that it could not be traced or remotely wiped?

weird....

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WTF?

If that's true

then why didn't the chappie who lost the phone in the first place ring it?

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Anonymous Coward

maybe...

Apparently the phone was remotely bricked by Apple within 24 hours.

I guess the finder was clueless, and he/she got to talk to some clued-up friends after the phone was bricked, who suggested contacting Wired and Gawker for a deal.

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J 3
Happy

Indeed

Jon Stewart of The Daily Show was making fun of the whole situation in last night's episode, it was quite funny. Among other things, they made a shiny black Apple logo, and Stewart said something about Apple "doing evil" stuff while Bill Gates was out there killing mosquitoes or something.

And yes, he also linked the police action to Apple, as if they had asked for it specifically.

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Forget about this phone, it's all about IP

I posted this comment on TechCrunch earlier, though I think it's more appropriate in this thread. As some of the first commenters have said, it's not just "any" phone that is at stake here.

I think everyone should forget about the phone and concentrate on the bigger picture of intellectual property. In a few of the early [TechCrunch] posts on this story, people quoted the IP parts of the California laws (not sure if it was penal code or civil code), but nobody caught on.

Imagine what happens if IP is no longer protected, and every hacker and every employee is out to make a buck off whatever they can grab from companies. Less investment into big things, just tiny incremental improvements, everything bland, looking the same and having the same uninnovative tech. KIRF and worse, decent copycats, coming from China before product launch. In that environment, R&D investment doesn’t make sense because you can’t get any market lead and thus no decent ROI. And don’t forget that flaghip products are sure to affect company revenue and thus millions of shareholders [you'll excuse me for exaggerating slightly].

I’m not defending Apple’s policies, nor their business model, but I can totally see how businesses and the state have an interest in protecting IP and asserting the force of IP law to protect investments, markets, emplyoment, and tax revenue. You’d hope they protect IP in a way that nabs the wrong-doer and doesn’t violate anyone’s constitutional rights, but then again, business interests and government work rarely meet that ideal.

All these industry websites (Giz, Engadget, Techcrunch, The Register) are treading a fine line every time they choose to release stolen info about products and strategy [actually, I don't think El Reg is as bad as the others in this regard]. I would much rather see insightful opinions about tech and society, such as the future of publishing, gaming, social networks, etc… [which they sometimes publish, but enough of the next phone articles already, who even reads those?]

[Welcome because it's my first comment to The Register, even though I first posted it elsewhere.]

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Coat

OVERREACTION

Whatever the law or ethics of it, clearly there has been an overreaction.

Could not the police (or Apple) have contacted him asking him to return it to a police station?

Sending in loads of tooled up special forced rozzers to kick the door in is not the way to handle it.

Mines the one with the phone in the pocket, ...phone, has anybody seen my phone?

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