Gizmodo editor Jason Chen gets house raided, assets seized

Jason Chen, Editor of Gizmodo.com, came home Friday night to a surprise visit from California's Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team, according to Gizmodo. Following the issuing of a warrant from the Judge of the Superior Court of San Mateo, CA, officers seized four computers and two servers from his residence. Gawker Media LLC is defending Chen and claiming that according to the California Legal Code, such a search and seizure was illegal.

The warrant clearly states that the search was for any material surrounding the controversial iPhone 4G prototype, and that anything deemed related to the iPhone prototype would be brought in and analyzed by forensic experts for any signs of misconduct or felony.

Gawker Media's COO, Gaby Darbyshire, responded to the seizure with a letter stating very clearly that this was illegal on grounds that:

  • Chen was a journalist.
  • He worked out of his home.
  • Section 1524(g) of the CA penal code clearly states that a journalist cannot be subpoenaed for refusal to reveal a source. 
  • Section 1070 of said code clearly states that a warrant cannot be issued for seizure of any objects described in section 1524(g)
  • An 'X' mark by "Night Search Approved" would disallow any seizure during the evening hours. The search commenced at 9:45 PM.

According to Chen's account of the night, when he came back from dinner with his wife, the officers had already entered his house. They encouraged him to stay away from the house while the search was underway, but that he was not under arrest. After about a half an hour, the officers took what they came for and left. They told him he could file for reimbursement for the door they bashed in, and that they had taken photos to prove that no other damage was inflicted on the house. 

Gizmodo has come under fire recently for its behavior in acquiring an alleged prototype of the iPhone 4G from an Apple engineer, due for release this summer. 

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