Search warrant for Gizmodo iPhone 4 leak editor dropped

The search warrant for Jason Chen, the Gizmodo editor who unveiled an iPhone 4 prototype in April, has been withdrawn.

This brings an end to the saga of the nicked prototype iPhone, which was left in a bar by an Apple employee, only to be picked up by an enterprising individual who sold it to Chen for $5,000, giving Gizmodo the scoop on what the world+dog thought was going to be an awesome piece of kit with a functional antenna. Then it was made clear that the iPhone 4 didn’t work properly.

The furious Apple reported Chen and Gizmodo to the police on the basis of suspected robbery, but we all know it was more to do with leaking the product information and stealing Apple’s thunder. The police issued a search warrant of Chen’s home and took possession of a number of items as part of their investigation, probably because they wanted to play with the new iPhone.

Last Thursday Chen agreed to unlock data kept on several of the seized devices which led to the police withdrawing their search warrant. We wonder why. It may have something to do with the fact that they found nothing to incriminate Chen with.

The entire incident was criticised by many, particularly considering the First Amendment and the fact that journalists are supposed to be protected from such searches. Many considered the search illegal, but since Chen has agreed to voluntarily submit the data on his devices, the San Mateo County police said “that means the First Amendment issue is no longer an issue”. In other words, force someone to “voluntarily” submit information in order to get around the fact that seizing that information is illegal – good job, San Mateo.

The police have yet to charge Chen with any crimes and Chen’s attorney, Tom Nolan, believes the case will close with the authorities realising Chen was innocent all along.