Police raid Gizmodo editor over lost iPhone

Technology blog Gizmodo last night reported that the home of its editor, Jason Chen, had been raided by California police investigating the leaking of details about the Apple iPhone 4G on the site.

Chen says that he and his wife returned home at 9.45 on Friday evening to find police had entered the premises to confiscate property.

The development comes after Gizmodo leaked details about a prototype of Apple’s new iPhone 4G, which the site the site had obtained from an unknown source in return for an alleged sum of $5,000.

Gizmodo writer Jesus Diaz had already stoked the controversy surrounding the phone’s loss by publicly outing the Apple employee responsible for leaving the device in a Redwood City bar. But debate still raged as to the legality of Gizmodo’s scoop, and what, if any, laws it had broken.

The heat turned up a notch when California law enforcement arrived at the editor’s house. As Gizmodo reported in a post yesterday: "California's Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team entered editor Jason Chen's home without him present, seizing four computers and two servers. They did so using a warrant by Judge of Superior Court of San Mateo."

The site reproduced the police's search documents, together with a response from Gaby Darbyshire, chief operating officer of the site’s owner, Gawker Media, disputing the warrant’s validity.

It is unclear as yet what charges may be brought following the swoop, though a detailed analysis of the legal issues on technology blog Technovia suggests Gizmodo may be accused of handling stolen goods under section 496 of the California Penal Code.

Further charges may await the individual who passed the iPhone to Gizmodo. According to Californian law governing lost property, the finder must attempt to contact the owner or hand it in to police in "reasonable time".