A chance to ask Apple about police-aided iPhone search

Tomorrow's launch of iPhone 5 may pose opportunity to ask about hunt for lost one

Tim Cook

Presuming there's a question-and-answer opportunity at tomorrow's big iPhone announcement, here's one that somebody should ask Apple CEO Tim Cook (right): Do you approve of the way two Apple security employees, accompanied by four police officers, searched a San Francisco man's home for a missing iPhone prototype back in July?

(8 piles of paper replaced by iPads)

It may not be a typical question for such a product launch - and Apple certainly wouldn't appreciate it being asked - but it seems more than justified given that Apple has said nothing publicly regarding the search, which was so questionable that the San Francisco Police Department has begun an internal investigation of the conduct of its officers.

Is Apple doing the same regarding its own employees and their involvement?

Apple, again, has said absolutely nothing. CNET, which broke the story of the missing prototype and Apple's subsequent police-aided search Aug. 31, again asked the company for comment as recently as last week ... and received none. (I've emailed the company's press relations department twice myself without getting a reply; or expecting one, truth be told.)

If you're just tuning in to this story, here's the background as best it can be understood from press reports: A device goes missing July 21-22 from a San Francisco watering hole; Apple traces it electronically to a home in the same city; two days later, six suits, at least one of whom allegedly identifies himself as a police officer, arrive at the homeowner's front door and ask to search the place; the homeowner, naturally assuming that he's looking at a half-dozen cops - not the four plus two Apple security agents -- admits to having been at the bar, denies having the phone, and acquiesces to the search; two of the suits - reportedly the Apple two -- enter the home and find nothing.

Among the questions that have been raised: Did the Apple employees commit the crime of impersonating a police officer? And did they, as the homeowner alleges, intimidate him into allowing the search?

Posed to Cook, the question could be simply: Is this how you want your people to operate?

Would I expect Apple's new CEO to answer such a question were it to actually land in tomorrow's iPhone 5 punch bowl?

Of course not.

But you never know. And someone ought to ask anyway, if only because it's an important question.

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