Wednesday, April 28, 2010

The iPhone-Gawker Thing, Continued

better-jason-chen_370x278 The saga of the leaked fourth-generation iPhone continues. For the story up to this point, read our post from last week.

The latest development: Police with a signed warrant entered the house of Gizmodo editor Jason Chen on Friday, confiscating all of his computing equipment and several sales receipts. The warrant was issued because the computers were believed to contain information about a felony, namely Gizmodo and Gawker Media’s purchase of the iPhone prototype from an unnamed source.

Gawker’s legal team fired back, citing a California state law protecting journalists from revealing their sources. You can read the full warrant and Gawker’s written response here.

Chris said it the best in our blog-wide email thread:

“Even if he's a journalist, the law only prevents journalists from being subpoenaed to reveal their sources (assuming I read it correctly). It doesn't prevent them from trafficking in stolen goods. Journalists have the right to retain anonymous sources; they don't have the write to break any law just because they are journalists.

Read the letter Gawker wrote. It's incoherent. They don't understand that the "don't issue a warrant to journalists" clause applies only to subpoenas. Whereas the California warrant clearly states they were seizing the goods because they were used to commit a felony.

I didn't have strong feelings on Gawker one way or another before this, but now they're coming across as really incompetent. Did they even consult a lawyer before issuing their response?”

I largely agree – the “we can do anything we want in pursuit of a story because we’re journalists with a responsibility to our readers” stance jives with statements that Gawker head Nick Denton has made up to this point.

This is a polarizing issue, and we’re sure you have stuff to say about it – sound off in the comments, as always.