Silicon Valley police investigating recent iPhone prototype incident

The incident regarding Gizmodo and an apparently "lost" iPhone prototype recently was very interesting, and not just because it was the first major leak to come out of Apple in a rather long time. A lot of people were interested in the circumstances around just how exactly the iPhone made its way from Apple to the gadget blog, especially considering the whole ordeal could be illegal, as a hefty sum of money was involved.

According to CNET, Apple has spoken to the police local to Santa Clara County regarding the event, and it is said that action is being taken by a "computer crime task force." So far, Gizmodo has failed to state exactly how they got the phone, though they've acknowledged that it was stolen, and have instead simply posted information about the engineer who lost the device. The whole incident has been scrutinized by members of the tech community, including a relatively detailed write up by John Gruber, while Gizmodo staff has been silent for the most part. 

If all swings in Apple's favor, charges could certainly be filed, as the news website had the phone for a week before posting their write up – it certainly wouldn't take that long to verify its authenticity and have it returned to Apple; in addition to that, Californian law is in Apple's favor, which spells bad news for Gizmodo. A lost phone may seem like a small thing to make such a big deal out of, but as you'll be aware, Apple values the secrecy of its products extremely highly, so to have a late-design prototype of one of their best selling items in the hands of the press months before release must be rather infuriating for Steve Jobs and friends. Be sure to keep an eye out for any updates regarding this story, if you're interested in the outcome.

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Dessimat0r said,
Too bad Gizmondo, you're going to jail for buying a (known) stolen iPhone for $5,000. Enjoy the free secks.

I doubt hes going to jail.

I still think it's possible Apple did this on purpose. We all know this is how they build hype about their products. Having the police investigate things only makes it look more real world. Seems crazy that Gizmodo got their hands on it for only $5,000. I would have paid more for a true iPhone prototype. That's basically only 10 iPhones in value. How did the people who found it even know it was special and how'd they find the right channels to get it out?

http://daringfireball.net/2010/04/gizmodo_prototype_iphone

This detailed write up mentioned in the article is absolutely SPOT ON. He covers the legal code of the state and the morals involved.

I didn't really give a toss either way before reading that, but I now can't help but have a bad taste in my mouth as regards the actions on the part of Gizmodo.

One great part:

Imagine, say, that someone offered to sell you a unique and notable piece of stolen artwork. You pay them and take the item. You are subsequently arrested and charged with buying stolen property. What do you think your chances are of being acquitted on the grounds that you didn’t know for certain whether the item was a forgery at the time you paid for it?

macf13nd said,
http://daringfireball.net/2010/04/gizmodo_prototype_iphone

This detailed write up mentioned in the article is absolutely SPOT ON. He covers the legal code of the state and the morals involved.

I didn't really give a toss either way before reading that, but I now can't help but have a bad taste in my mouth as regards the actions on the part of Gizmodo.

One great part:

in regards to the quote, it's more like someone left their unique and notable piece of artwork in a public place, someone found it, tried to return it but their efforts were rebuffed, and decided to sell it.

apple showed negligence here, in not taking it back after the finder's attempts to return it, and by not reporting it to police.

if you lost a notable and unique piece of art, you would certainly report it to police, like i would do if i lost my $100 bike from walmart.

so while gizmodo's and the finder's actions are not commendable, apple certainly didn't do their part either.

The whole story is on gizmodo and this article makes no sense. Apparently the guy who found it, tried to give it back to apple or something. Gizmodo bought it from him. I think that's the way it was.

Julius Caro said,
The whole story is on gizmodo and this article makes no sense. Apparently the guy who found it, tried to give it back to apple or something. Gizmodo bought it from him. I think that's the way it was.

Yes, they "tried" but they did not put so much effort for it.
For example, a colleague mine found a wallet (with some important documents) so he decided to bring it to a police station. So, you don't need to contact the owner of the products for return a missing/stolen goods.

Considering how inept most police departments are, if the finder had done as you suggest, it probably would have sat in a box for the rest of eternity (or at least until they decided to clean out the closet). To the average cop, this would have just been treated as another lost phone. Hell, many departments probably wouldn't even have taken it, or would have just thrown it in the trash if someone didn't come looking for it after a few weeks.

Ok, here is my view on Gizmodo, they are idiots.
Anyone remember that event where they kept switching the projectors on/off during ppl presentation.
That was the day they lost all value for me.
And now if they really had their hands on a lost/stolen (industrial secret) device, i really hope they will get their asses handed to them for trying to profit from it.

And yeah, Neowin FTW !!!

Krpano said,
Ok, here is my view on Gizmodo, they are idiots.
Anyone remember that event where they kept switching the projectors on/off during ppl presentation.
That was the day they lost all value for me.
And now if they really had their hands on a lost/stolen (industrial secret) device, i really hope they will get their asses handed to them for trying to profit from it.

And yeah, Neowin FTW !!!

+1

I'm no Apple-fanatic, but I do hope Gizmodo gets it in the shorts for this. Those writers (especially the editors) are such pompous idiot d-bags. Engadget is slightly better, but still pretty bad. Thjink I'll stick with Neowin for life.

Benda said,
I'm no Apple-fanatic, but I do hope Gizmodo gets it in the shorts for this. Those writers (especially the editors) are such pompous idiot d-bags. Engadget is slightly better, but still pretty bad. Thjink I'll stick with Neowin for life.
Neowin is good, but the Windows fanboy comments are tiring. But yes, Gizmodo did wrong here, and I'm not really talking of returning the phone, but revealing the name of the guy who lost it - a completely human mistake - so that his career can easily be ruined in the USA. Gizmodo has nothing to win from doing that, and it was a childish douchebag move you usually find among 4chan trolls.

Edited by Northgrove, Apr 24 2010, 11:22am :

Just to clarify some things here, this is a quote from one of Gizmodo's articles on the incident:

Our legal team told us that in California the law states, "If it is lost, the owner has three years to reclaim or title passes to the owner of the premises where the property was found. The person who found it had the duty to report it." Which, actually, the guys who found it tried to do, but were pretty much ignored by Apple

The people who found the phone tried to return it to Apple, but were (repeatedly) ignored. This all happened BEFORE Gizmodo got their hands on the phone. Once Apple decided to ask for it back, Gizmodo worked with them to return it. That doesn't work very well in Apple's favor, even though the crazy lost and found laws in California are on their side.

roadwarrior said,
Just to clarify some things here, this is a quote from one of Gizmodo's articles on the incident:

The people who found the phone tried to return it to Apple, but were (repeatedly) ignored. This all happened BEFORE Gizmodo got their hands on the phone. Once Apple decided to ask for it back, Gizmodo worked with them to return it. That doesn't work very well in Apple's favor, even though the crazy lost and found laws in California are on their side.


They did their part and their civic duty, I dont think the law says you have to maintain secrecy on what you found, it only says you have to step up and contact them and arrage for it to be returned.

Nexus- said,

They did their part and their civic duty, I dont think the law says you have to maintain secrecy on what you found, it only says you have to step up and contact them and arrage for it to be returned.

There is not expectation of privacy, but you still shouldn't disassemble someone else's property. Second, that phone wasn't his to sell. By selling it, he was assuming ownership of property that was not his, which inside 3 years is theft.

Anyone listen to adam carolla podcast? The guy from gizmodo was on the show talking about the phone. The whole thing sounded like a plug for the phone and gizmodo.

Mekun said,
Anyone listen to adam carolla podcast? The guy from gizmodo was on the show talking about the phone. The whole thing sounded like a plug for the phone and gizmodo.

Like I said before, this is just publicity for Gizmodo. That's what they wanted IMO

boohoo Apple...suck it up. All you will get if you win or sue someone is money which you have plenty of. Worry about improving your image instead of the downward spiral it is in now.

techbeck said,
boohoo Apple...suck it up. All you will get if you win or sue someone is money which you have plenty of. Worry about improving your image instead of the downward spiral it is in now.

Not only will they get money, but they will look like tools doing it, mainly because damage has been done, and your right they already lost, and its a permant tarnish on their reutation of secrecy that money or criminal charges wont recover. They need to get over it and move on.

Nexus- said,

mainly because damage has been done

If no action was taken in cases where the damage had already been done what deterrent would there be for crimes?

they tried to return the phone, apple said no. How can they now fire back when they themselves didn't want it back? Apple is just one horrible story after another.

shakey said,
they tried to return the phone, apple said no. How can they now fire back when they themselves didn't want it back? Apple is just one horrible story after another.

No, the guy who picked up the phone at a bar called apple tech support, and they had no clue what he was talking about

Gizmodo on the other hand, has Apple contacts, the day they got their hands on the phone they could of gotten ahold of somebody at Apple in the know ;P

now i don't care for Apple but im rooting for Jobso on this one

Edited by dingl_, Apr 23 2010, 11:54pm :

Yeah, I don't see how it could be considered stolen. The engineer lost the phone, some guy found it and then the phone was bricked remotely so he had no way of contacting the owner. He then tried contacting apple but no one would talk to him about it. He then sold it. It wasn't stolen, it was found and he tried returning it but no one would take it.

stokhli said,
Yeah, I don't see how it could be considered stolen. The engineer lost the phone, some guy found it and then the phone was bricked remotely so he had no way of contacting the owner. He then tried contacting apple but no one would talk to him about it. He then sold it. It wasn't stolen, it was found and he tried returning it but no one would take it.

You don't contact Apples customer support line to talk about a prototype you found. You find a way to contact Apple HQ.
The best route to achieve this would have been to take it to the police.
Obviously the person who 'found' the device knew he could get a pretty penny out of it.
If he was that clueless about how to return a prototype, he would have just thrown the phone away, since it didn't work correctly after being wiped.

Gizmodo by holding onto the phone and not returning it probably dint help the guy who lost it. I bet he got fired. Did they even think about that?

Mekun said,
Gizmodo by holding onto the phone and not returning it probably dint help the guy who lost it. I bet he got fired. Did they even think about that?

They used it to be the "first to have the phone" and get attention for it. That's what it was all about.

Mekun said,
Gizmodo by holding onto the phone and not returning it probably dint help the guy who lost it. I bet he got fired. Did they even think about that?

Indeed, it didn't help his cause.
If nobody leaked any information about it, he would have felt less guilty, but now... all those articles, those pictures, those videos... that doesn't help the poor guy.

Mekun said,
Gizmodo by holding onto the phone and not returning it probably dint help the guy who lost it. I bet he got fired. Did they even think about that?
It's doubtful that they care. They're running a business, and if this news gets them to the top of the number of hits a news site gets then that's what they want. Lame.

Mekun said,
Gizmodo by holding onto the phone and not returning it probably dint help the guy who lost it. I bet he got fired. Did they even think about that?

actually what likely got the guy fired was disclosing his name on their website. It could have possiblely (but not nessecarly) remained secret, had they not posted it. Now the world knows his name and he will likely find it impossible to get any kind of tech job.

Nexus- said,

actually what likely got the guy fired was disclosing his name on their website. It could have possiblely (but not nessecarly) remained secret, had they not posted it. Now the world knows his name and he will likely find it impossible to get any kind of tech job.

He's probably not too familiar with this 'world' you speak of. Apple only allows their employees to leave their cages for a few minutes a day, to encourage mating and the development of a purebred work force.

presence06 said,
Was it confirmed they paid $5,000 for the phone itself?

Their parent company Gawker told news outlets like good morning america, and today show thats how much the giz staff paid for it, so im sure the parent company wants to keep their hands clean of all of it and be completely straightforward.

presence06 said,
Was it confirmed they paid $5,000 for the phone itself?

Yes. It's pretty ugly. It's a good scoop, but it has a dark backside. Basically I think it falls under a law about handling stolen goods, if Gizmodo knew this in advance, which it seems like they did.

Edited by Northgrove, Apr 24 2010, 11:42am :

It seems probable, that $teve Jobs will be making an example of them. We've seen the hammer fall hard on leakers before right? And surely, if you find any phone and just keep it - that's theft right? These guys admitted to that at least.

day2die said,

Actually: More reasons to ditch Apple

Huh?

The worst part about all this is actually completely missed: That Gizmodo revealed the name of the official who had lost it, potentially ruining his career in many parts of the USA for something that's really a quite human mistake. That's really nasty, and completely unwarranted. It didn't even go Gizmodo any good; it was a 4chan-style move.


Please stop protecting Gizmodo, they've acted like complete douchbags.

Edited by Northgrove, Apr 24 2010, 11:19am :

Ricmacas said,
"though they've acknowledged that it was stolen [citation needed]"

there was a mention they were aware that under calif law that it was probably classed as theft not on their part, the person they bought it from, that being said they also knew that they were purchasing stolen goods.

"it certainly wouldn't take that long to verify its authenticity and have it returned to Apple"

This article is FULL of nonsense, and lies. Gizmodo RANG apple to try and return it but they denied that they had lost anything and hung up on them.

ANYWAY Please also explain HOW Gizmodo could know for sure who owned the device. Even that letter their legal counsel sent did not describe it in ANY degree to be able to identify it.

If it was me I'd have asked fora description of the "device" and some proof it was theirs!

dvb2000 said,

This article is FULL of nonsense, and lies. Gizmodo RANG apple to try and return it but they denied that they had lost anything and hung up on them.

ANYWAY Please also explain HOW Gizmodo could know for sure who owned the device. Even that letter their legal counsel sent did not describe it in ANY degree to be able to identify it.

If it was me I'd have asked fora description of the "device" and some proof it was theirs!

Really were you at their offices when this happened?

Edrick Smith said,
Really were you at their offices when this happened?
Were you?

It would help if people could point to where they get their info.