Cops slam victim of illegal iPhone search "juvenile"

Coppers who got into hot water after they acted as Apple security enforcers instead of upholding the US constitution have a novel way of saying sorry.

As part of the criminal investigation into the missing iPhone 4 prototype, the Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team (REACT), a “partnership of 17 local, state, and federal agencies” focused on computer-related crime in the Bay Area, executed a warrant and raided the home of Gizmodo editor Jason Chen, searching for evidence related to Gizmodo’s scoop about the lost phone.

However prosecutors worked out that neither Chen nor Gizmodo did anything wrong after all and the raid might have been unconstitutional.

San Mateo County District Attorney Steven Wagstaffe admitted that there was not sufficient evidence to charge anyone associated with the tech site with “possession of stolen property” or “extortion.”

So you would be expecting an apology from Wagstaffe, right? Um, no. Instead what he did was attack the quality of the improperly-seized, unpublished correspondence between the Gizmodo editors, describing it as “juvenile.”

Rather than proving that the Californian justice system is not a tool in the hands of Apple, Wagstaffe waded into the editors of the magazine claiming that that it was “obvious” that they were miffed with Apple after they had been snubbed from an Apple event.

“We expected to see a certain amount of professionalism,” he told Cnet, “this is like 15-year-old children talking. There was so much animosity, and they were very critical of Apple. They talked about having Apple right where they wanted them and they were really going to show them.”

To outsiders, it would seem that the San Francisco coppers might like to look at their own professionalism.

In a civilised country you do not act like the personal police force for a multi-national corporate, seize emails looking for evidence of guilt, and then, when you don’t find any, act as Apple’s press office and abuse the victims of your search using the material you obtained in dubious circumstances.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is furious.

It said that illegally breaking into the home of a journalist and seizing his property is profoundly troubling, especially as law enforcement shows no apparent sign of remorse or of learning from the mistake.

In fact, it appears that the cosy relationship between Apple black shirted security and the local cops is continuing following the questionable police-escorted search of a San Francisco home by Apple employees, apparently looking for another lost iPhone prototype.

“Wagstaffe and the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office owe Chen and Gizmodo an apology, not snide commentary, now that the matter has concluded,” an EFF spokesman said.