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04/26/2010

Blogger’s home raided in next-gen iPhone probe, gear seized

The leaked next-gen iPhone may end up costing Gizmodo a whole lot more than the $5,000 they reportedly paid for the lost device.

Reports emerged Monday afternoon that the home of Gizmodo editor Jason Chen was raided by police last Friday and authorities seized computers and other tech goodies as part of their iPhone prototype investigation.

Many questions are being raised about whether or not police have the right to barge in and seize equipment from a blogger, who’s actually a journalist.

Gizmodo_iphone It’s also questionable whether his home can be considered a newsroom – since that’s where Chen works from. If that can be proven in this scenario, Chen’s computers would likely have been protected.

The COO of Gawker Media, which publishes Gizmodo, says the search wasn’t valid because Chen is a journalist.

This raid isn’t catching me by surprise. The New York Times reported on Saturday that charges were likely going to be laid in the case – against the seller - and quite possibly, the buyer. I can’t help but wonder if they knew the police seizures were going to take place.

But then again, not too many news organizations “pay” for news. And that’s where Gizmodo may be in the wrong.

Here’s the thing: In California, you can’t sell someone’s lost property without permission. If the phone was sold for anything less than $950, this would be a simple misdemeanour and wouldn’t be an issue. But cash was exchanged to the tune of a cool $5,000, which is a felony – a more serious offence.

So the fellow who found this iPhone in the bar (after it was lost by the sloppy software developer) could potentially be on the hook for felony - and so could Gizmodo.

Let’s watch this story closely. Depending on how things turn out, a precedent could be set that would solidify quality bloggers as journalists offering them valuable legal protection. At the same time, Gizmodo may be kicking themselves for paying a considerable sum of money to get their hands on the device – only to break a law or two.

But after seeing the photos and descriptions of Apple’s sexy new phone – can you blame them?

- Maurice Cacho, MSN Tech & Gadgets

*Photo: Gizmodo.com video

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Danny BradburyDanny Bradbury

Danny Bradbury is a technology journalist with 20 years' experience. He writes regularly for publications including the Guardian, the Financial Times, the Financial Post, and Backbone magazine. Danny also writes and directs documentaries.

Maurice CachoMaurice Cacho

Maurice Cacho is a Toronto-based journalist mixing his love for tech with a passion for news. He's also CP24's Web Journalist and appears daily on CP24 Breakfast and weekly on the channel's tech show, Webnation, discussing tech news and trends.

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