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Bad boys, bad boys -- whatcha gonna do when they come for you?
The case of the lost iPhone prototype and its subsequent dissection on Gizmodo last week is now the subject of a probe by the Silicon Valley police, according to Cnet. As you’ll recall, an Apple engineer supposedly lost the prototype of the next-generation iPhone at a German pub and a few weeks later, the finder of the device sold it to Gizmodo parent Gawker Media for $5,000 -- a transaction that appears to have run afoul of California law.
After getting the lost device back, Cupertino-based Apple has now spoken to local police about the mishap, which is now believed to be the focus of a computer crime task force led by the Santa Clara County district attorney’s office.
Although law enforcement officials declined to comment, it’s believed that the purpose of the investigation is to “determine whether sufficient evidence exists to file criminal charges,” according to Cnet. Neither Apple nor Gawker Media responded to requests for an interview on the subject.
For now, it doesn’t appear that Gawker nor Gizmodo is the target of the investigation. Bloomberg reported Friday that Gawker’s chief operating officer, Gaby Darbyshire, had heard nothing from law enforcement officials, nor had anyone else at the company.
“Under a California law dating back to 1872,” Cnet explains, “any person who finds lost property and knows who the owner is likely to be but ‘appropriates such property to his own use’ is guilty of theft. If the value of the property exceeds $400, more serious charges of grand theft can be filed. In addition, a second state law says that any person who knowingly receives property that has been obtained illegally can be imprisoned for up to one year.”
However, Cnet is quick to note that any prosecution of this type would be “complicated” by the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of the press: In 2001, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that confidential information leaked to a news organization could be legally broadcast. However, that case didn’t deal with lost physical property and the radio station in question did not pay its source.
We’ll surely hear more about this in the days to come, so stay tuned to this channel.
(Images courtesy of Gizmodo and Engadget)