This past Friday, investigators of the Rapid Enforcement and Allied Computer Team (REACT) raided the Redwood City home of Jason Chen, a senior editor at gizmodo. Chen is the editor whose video leaked the existence of the next iPhone to the world last week and was in possession of the prototype prior to its return to Apple. According to gizmodo, the blog paid $5000 to the man who found the device at a local bar in Redwood City. It is still unclear how the iPhone ended up in this man’s hands, but what is clear is that the police are curious as well. REACT searched Chen’s home with a warrant signed by a Judge of the Superior Court of San Mateo. Under this warrant, police seized several computers from Chen’s home as well as several phones and portable electronic devices. No criminal charges have been filed against gizmodo or Chen as of yet.
These searches have raised considerable controversy in the tech world as to the legality of the warrant. Federal and state laws exist that protect journalists from police search and seizure without a court subpoena. After a 2006 California appeals court ruling, bloggers are subject to the same protections as journalists. This may protect Chen and gizmodo, but some argue that if charges were pressed a criminal investigation would be allowed to search the home of Chen. This will most likely turn out to be quite an interesting story, as the outcome of this investigation will likely set precedent for future “investigative blogging.”