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