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Police Raid Gizmodo Editor's Home: The Fallout Continues

The online reaction has been full of conspiracy theories. Here are some of the highlights so far.

By Ian Paul, PC World
April 27, 2010 12:22 PM ET

PC World - Gawker Media's Gizmodo knew it had a hot story when it gained access to a prototype of Apple's upcoming fourth-generation iPhone. But it seems likely that even the folks at the gadget blog could not have predicted just how much attention its series of exclusive reports on the iPhone 4G would garner.

Gizmodo recently revealed that officers from California's Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team (REACT), a special task force of police officers and federal agents created to combat computer-related crimes, raided the home of Gizmodo Editor Jason Chen last Friday. The police seized an assortment of computer equipment including five computers, three external hard drives, one HP MediaSmart Server, an Apple iPad, and other devices.

The police investigation stems from a series of articles that Gizmodo began running on April 19 about a next-generation Apple iPhone that the gadget blog had obtained after it was lost by an Apple employee in a California beer garden. It was later revealed that Gawker Media paid $5000 to obtain the phone from the anonymous person who found the device at the bar. Gizmodo has since returned the phone to Apple.

The online reaction to the police search of Chen's home has so far been swift, often over the top, and always entertaining. Here are the highlights so far:

Conspiracy Theory #1: Apple Did It

John Cook of Yahoo News was one of the first out of the gate Monday night with a conspiracy theory tying Apple to the decision by law enforcement to raid Chen's home. Apple sits on REACT's steering committee, according to Yahoo News, and provides REACT and its officers with ", and internal support." Cook points to a purported phone call made by Apple CEO Steve Jobs to Gawker Media chief Nick Denton to demand the purloined iPhone back, and wonders if Apple didn't "sick its high-tech cops on Chen" in reaction to the whole mess.

Fireballs and Mythical Beasts Respond

Cook's report did not sit well with Daring Fireball blogger John Gruber and Macworld's mythical pundit, the Macalope, two well known Apple pundits and prognosticators. Gruber takes issue with Cook's characterization of Apple as a kind of puppet master directing REACT's actions, and points out that, regardless of Apple's involvement with REACT, the company cannot influence the district attorney's decision to investigate a reported crime. "This is a criminal investigation, not a civil lawsuit. Apple gets to decide whether to file civil litigation. The San Mateo district attorney gets to decide whether to launch a criminal investigation...[Apple] can tell the DA what happened. They can't order the DA what to do."

The mythical Macalope on its not-so-mythical blog takes issue with Cook's characterization of Apple being so outraged by Gizmodo's $5000 purchase of Apple's iPhone prototype that Jobs placed a call to Denton over the scandal. "Anyone else would have just let someone who had purchased their possibly stolen property keep it," the Macalope wrote in its typical sardonic tone. "But not Apple. They're such hotheads."

Originally published on www.pcworld.com. Click here to read the original story.

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