iPhone Leak

Friday, April 30, 2010


Shield laws are designed to protect whistleblowers by allowing journalists to refuse to testify about their sources. But should they apply in a case like Gizmodo's iPhone leak, where the source was paid for possibly stolen material? George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley says this case sets a precedent that could diminish shield law protections.

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Comments [4]

Jack from Connecticut

Jonathan Turley, the commentator in this piece, is wrong by saying that Gizmodo's payment of money for the phone puts it in a different category – that of fence – from a real journalist. Consider the restaurant reviewer, who pays for her meals and writes a commentary that can affect the future of a restaurant. Consider Consumer Reports, which pays for everything it reviews. When it reports that consumers should not by a certain Lexus, the unbiased report affects car companies and citizens alike. Whether or not you agree, these are forms of journalism. If Jason Chen had paid $50 for the phone, or $5, would that have made a difference?

Both Turley and Bob Garfield referred to the iPhone in question as "stolen property." That, I believe, is inaccurate. I read that under California law, someone who finds a lost item and doesn't make appropriate efforts to return it could be considered to have stolen it. There's a weak law. That phone was abandoned, not stolen. The degree to which the prosecutor and the police went to seize Chen and his personal property is outrageous. Inviting Turley onto the program to look down his nose at this journalistic effort is disheartening to this listener.

May. 07 2010 01:19 PM
Richard Gomes from New York

The standard here is intent.

Wherever the court decides to set the bar, Reisen clearly fits within the notion of Whistleblower. Gizmodo does not.

Reisen's intent was to uncover systemic abuse (within the CIA). Gizmodo had no reason to suspect Apple of such abuse.


May. 01 2010 07:30 AM
Howard M Thompson

I don't see the value of shield laws. While I've often heard claims that certain kinds of evidence would not become public in the absence of shield laws. That seems plausible. But, I haven't seen the evidence.

Moreover, shield laws create a special class, journalists, that has more speech rights than the rest of us. Therefore, courts or legislators have to define that class. Do we want government deciding who has the right to speak?

May. 01 2010 07:22 AM
Kahlid from Philly, PA

Thanks for the update on Reisen, please continue to udate this story.

Apr. 30 2010 10:23 PM

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