Twitter is abuzz at the moment – as you may have heard, Gawker Media has been in possession of an unreleased fourth generation iPhone, and blogged to great fanfare the details of what the new device would look like. Friday night, “California’s Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team entered editor Jason Chen’s home without him present, seizing four computers and two servers,” and several other miscellaneous gadgets.
They had a search warrant issued by a San Mateo judge, though Gawker Media COO Gaby Darbyshire contends that the warrant is invalid under “section 1524(g) of the California Penal Code.”
Quite honestly, I find this news frightening and expect it to have a chilling effect to online journalism in general. The power that Apple has to affect a police departments actions here is alarming. Anyone who’s ever experienced a theft in their lifetime, be it a device or even a vehicle costing tens of thousands of dollars know first-hand that the police department will laugh at you if you ask them of the chances for justice in your case. That Apple was able to have a gestapo-like raid orchestrated on Chen’s home over a single phone is amazing and horrifying.
Since my initial tweet on this topic, I’ve received countless emails and direct messages from folks in agreement, as well as expressions of alarm from employees in the various areas of competition with Apple. The company flexing it’s muscles like this really does complete the transition of the company’s image from the runner to the overbearing big-brother-ish head in the iconic 1984 commercial.