Missing iPhone Case Turns Criminal

By Lori Preuitt
|  Tuesday, Apr 27, 2010  |  Updated 9:36 AM PDT
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The case of the lost iPhone is getting serious. It now includes actions by the San Mateo County District Attorney, a judge and a crime task force unit.

Members of multiple law enforcement agencies searched Jason Chen's home last Friday.  The search became public Monday.

Chen said he's been getting a lot of messages from reporters on Facebook but wouldn't comment on the case as he walked into his garage Monday.  He's the Gizmodo editor and blogger who posted pictures and details of a lost iPhone prototype found in a Redwood City bar a couple weeks ago.

On Friday, members of a computer crime task force seized computers, hard drives, digital cameras, cell phones and other gadgets listed on a search warrant  from Chen's home. They also took Chen's American Express bill and copies of his checks.

The case is brings up the question: Are bloggers journalists?

Under California's Shield Law, journalists are protected under the Shield Law but since Chen is a blogger, the legal coverage is being questioned.

"A lot of people have been asking 'does the law cover bloggers?' The answer to that is -- it's irrelevant." David Greene, executive director of the First Amendment Project said. "If it is a journalist blogging, or someone who's employed or connected with  a news organization blogging, yes it will cover them. The fact it's blogging doesn't matter. The question is whether it's news gathering or not."

The warrant was issued by a Superior Court judge in San Mateo County.  It said the seized items may have been used to commit a felony. Steve Wagstaffe, spokesman for the San Mateo County District Attorney's office, confirmed the warrant's authenticity to the Associated Press.

Last week, Gizmodo posted photos of an Apple device that appeared to be a next-generation iPhone. It had been found in a bar in Redwood City, which is in San Mateo County, and sold for $5,000 by an unknown person to Gizmodo.

After Chen posted photos and details about the phone, Apple acknowledged the device belonged to the company.

Gizmodo has since returned the device.

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