EFF Lawyer: Seizure of Gizmodo Editor’s Computers Violates State and Federal Law

Avram Piltch:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation, the Internet’s leading digital rights advocacy group, has also taken a public position on the search, telling us that California’s search warrant is illegal and should never have been issued. In a phone interview this afternoon, EFF Civil Liberties Director Jennifer Granick told us: “There are both federal and state laws here in California that protect reporters and journalists from search and seizure for their news gathering activities. The federal law is the Privacy Protection Act and the state law is a provision of the penal code and evidence code. It appears that both of those laws may be being violated by this search and seizure.”

Granick said that, even if Jason Chen is under investigation for receipt of stolen property, the government has no right to issue a search warrant, because California law includes exceptions for journalists who are in receipt of information from sources.

Or, as summarized by The Macalope:

Shorter EFF: buying stolen merchandise is fine as long as you write a story about it.

God bless the EFF, they do good work, and I can see why they want to err on the side of the media. But this is uncharted territory. If you think paying $5,000 (or more — the $5,000 figure comes from Nick Denton) to purchase stolen property qualifies as “news gathering activities”, show me the case law.

Monday, 26 April 2010