EFF, Wired, MarketWatch, Yahoo: Outrage ensues over Apple’s reporting of iPhone prototype theft
April 28th, 2010
Daniel Eran Dilger
Enemies of Apple are boiling to the surface like ants scrambling from a rotten log on fire. Their outrage emanates from a deep moral disgust over the company reporting the theft of its property and appealing to the rule of law.
.EFF: there is never theft in the Communist Paradise
The first sign of abhorrence directed toward Apple came from the EFF, which most definitely is not Apple’s BFF. This is the group seeking to convert the success of Apple’s iPhone App Store into a communal software paradise like that of Linux, where everyone writes their own code and proprietors can suck it. For the EFF, there’s no such thing as intellectual property, and it’s really just a small intellectual leap to say there’s no such thing as property.
And if you don’t have ownership, you can’t have theft. That appears to be the manifesto of the EFF, which has taken the position it once argued in behalf of bloggers (in a case including AppleInsider), that insisted investigative writers of all sorts should be accorded the legal protections of journalists in protecting their sources, and extrapolated a new understanding that suggests you can commit any sort of property theft as long as you write about it afterward.
Boom: instant protection! The Shield Law for journalists is now a way to prevent police from investigating crimes. Just explicitly state the amount you paid for stolen merchandise in your blog, print private personal information about the victim you deprived of his property, then claim you have no idea who the property could have belonged to and Shazam! you are a journalist shrouded in a cloak of magical invincibility.
Don’t Task, Don’t Tell
Since theft simply doesn’t exist without the capitalist fiction of personal property, and considering that the real victim is always the person who benefits from stealing from moneyed fat cat corporations, the obvious conclusion is that anyone who supports the rule of law or asks for protection and redress under it must be downright square. And a narc. And perhaps a witch.
The real outrage is that Apple works with the Po-Po to prevent theft and recover stolen property. What bastards. And when it finds people have taken its stuff, it tattles to the police and then forces the District Attorney to take the theft seriously. I know when my friends have had their iPhones stolen at a bar, it’s just a funny thing we laugh about.
Once I text messaged a thief who had taken my friend’s phone along with his jacket and keys and wallet, offering a reward for return. The theft told me to copulate with myself, albeit using the German word. I laughed for days at his hardline stance against the Man and my naively slavish devotion to the concept of property, intellectual or otherwise. It made me want to leave my own iPhone sitting on a bar stool, just so I could relive the excitement of spreading my resources around to the finders-keepers community.
Surely, the fact that Apple “provides training, personnel, and support” to the Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team, a group of 17 local, state, and federal law-enforcement agencies headquartered in the corporation’s own Santa Clara County, biases the government agencies in favor of Apple as a victim of theft, and predisposes it against the thieves. This is fascism at its worst.
This is also another disgusting abrogation of freedom in our country, where the government increasingly plays a role favoring victims of crime rather than the perpetrators of theft. What we really need to do is to elect another Republican governor for California like, say, Carly Fiorina, so she can further downsize the burdensome regulatory rule of law and lay off the oppressive role of Gubment like so many axed HP employees. Once that happens, Goldman Sachs and others who have acquired wealth illegally can hold onto it without being roughed up by federal bureaucrats and their tax collecting socialist-fascist pawns who want to build public works like schools and highways rather than subsidizing private enterprise like the state subsidized prisons designed to hold immigrants and pot smokers.
The report of Apple’s outrageous collusion with REACT was broken by John Cook, a reporter for the esteemed “Yahoo! News” and (secretly) a former blogger employed by the same Gawker Media that sponsored the checkbook journalism that resulted in Gizmodo’s property seizure investigation in the first place. If you follow the money trail, it leads right to the crime. And to the report of the crime, spun as a conspiracy by Gawker’s friends. And that conspiracy involves Apple. Guilty as charged, Steve Jobs.
A Conflict of Interest
Clearly, there is some sort of “conflict of interest” going on here, as many readers of the Cook articles have observed. It’s certainly in Apple’s interest to prevent theft and seek damages for theft in order to dissuade potential thieves from taking and holding its property for weeks, and or selling it to the highest bidder, or trafficking stolen property with the intent of materially benefitting from exposed trade secrets. The police involved in REACT similarly have an interest in preventing computer-related theft in Apple’s backyard of Silicon Valley.
The conflict, it seems, relates to the interest in thieving on the part of people who are not Apple nor the police. Or perhaps the conflict in interest involves journalists who write about a subject as if they are non-biased observers simply recounting facts, when in reality they have an interest in making their former employer look innocent and perhaps unjustly aggrieved as the victim of a criminal investigation.
Whatever the conflict, it certainly is interesting. And who better than Cook is qualified to report on the subject of his former employer’s investigation, under the suggestion that members of society who support the rule of law are somehow involved in a conflict of interest when they seek assistance from said police? It’s fortunate that Gawker Media is not just financing checkbook journalism, but also spinning off journalists who can tell its side of the story to the people, and not to the investigating police, who are clearly conflicted about Gawker’s interest in acquiring stolen property.
Let’s See What the Criminal Experts at Wired Have to Say
It’s not just Gawker Media’s former employees who are disgusted by this collusion of Apple and the police sticking their noses into the smoking guns of crime scenes. What about high profile computer crime experts who know enough about the subject to have spent time in prison for mail, wire and computer fraud, money laundering, and obstruction of justice?
Kevin Poulsen, aka Dark Dante, spent the second half of the 1990s in federal prison, and the second half of the 2000’s in his current role as the senior editor of Wired. His “Threat Level” blog has been a merciless critic of Apple and the iPhone, starting with an article that falsely suggested the iPhone was as insecure as Windows 95.
Poulsen was so upset to receive RoughlyDrafted criticism over the irresponsible, alarmist story Wired published under his watch that he printed a personal attack posting that compared me to Ron Paul’s supporters, ignoring all of the actual criticisms of his misleading and inaccurate report dripping with sensationalism and ignorant nonsense about supposed security issues.
Wired then demonstrated the flexibility of the definition of journalism when it printed a hit piece on the iPhone in Japan, which falsely attributed comments to people who did not say them, and then falsely attributed the comments to other sources after the first publicly denied having said it, then removed attribution entirely after the second source also denied having said the comments Wired had stuffed in their mouth (that Japanese people thought the iPhone was unsophisticated, the message Wired wanted to publish regardless of what the Japanese were actually saying about it).
Apparently, Wired’s editors thought they could report on what people in Japan though about the iPhone without actually reporting, and just making up false statements instead. Turns out it was not safe to bet that people in Japan don’t read Wired, and don’t have any hangups about being falsely said to have made comments they did not agree with. Wired never corrected its story, even after the iPhone went on to become the most popular phone in Japan.
It’s therefore understandable that Wired might want to spin similar fictions to vilify Apple as the aggressor theft victim and the thieves as misunderstood, beneficently charming people who were working hard to return the iPhone prototype for weeks as they actually shopped it around to media sources.
Wired advocates theft via creative language
There’s nothing creative about saying something you found and kept, despite knowing who the owner was and making no actual attempt to contact them or present it to the authorities, was lost rather than stolen. What takes real creative balls is saying that selling stolen merchandise is really a matter of “giving exclusive access to the device in exchange for $5,000.”
This is kind of like blaming a rape victim for looking sexy, and then saying the pimp who sold her for sex was really just providing “exclusive access” in exchange for a great deal of money. Not really crime, just a gentlemen’s agreement of sorts, where money crosses hands in exchange for something, but not for the purpose you’d think because that would be illegal. Completely above board, legitimate exclusive access to stolen property in exchange for thousands of dollars. Not really selling anything, just exchanging thousands of dollars in an effort to figure out how to return the device most efficiently by way of blog network, because that’s the best way to return stuff you’ve stolen.
The actual person who picked up the phone and kept it wasn’t a thief, Wired writes, but rather a “finder” who “attempted to notify Apple and find the owner of the device but failed, even going so far as to search alphabetically through Facebook.” Apparently this level of failure didn’t prevent the thief from recounting exactly who the owner was by way of his Facebook page, and providing this information to Gizmodo along with “exclusive access” (and possession) of the stolen device so that Gizmodo could scribble up an account of what a jerk the engineer was for leaving it behind.
Perhaps Wired’s senior editor is back in prison again and can’t read over this insanely written garbage to extract some semblance of coherent logic. Gizmodo claimed that attempts were made to return the phone as they furiously worked to disassemble it and take pictures of the Apple logos within as they attempted to determine who it might possibly belong to. Yet Wired’s bizarrely written account makes it clear that Apple went to the home of the thief to ask for the return of the prototype and was refused. So who is lying? Or perhaps, is anyone not lying?
Apple would certainly know where to go because the prototype phone was linked to MobileMe, making it trackable right up until the company remotely wiped it. So Apple had a position and an identity of the thief from the first day. Yet Wired then says the thief/finder held onto the phone for “weeks” afterward, ineffectually trying to restore it using iTunes after it was wiped by Apple. All while suggesting they were trying to figure out who it might belong to and how they could possibly return it.
During that time, the thief/finder shopped it around to various sources, including Wired and Engadget. Not a day after it was found, but as early as March 28, according to Wired. So the thief/finder sat on it for weeks, then sold it to Gizmodo, then more weeks went by before it was printed up and any attempt was ever made to return it, even though all along everyone involved knew it belonged to an Apple engineer. And yet Wired still strains to call the event anything other than what it was: a stolen piece of property sold to the highest bidder after weeks of possession while no efforts were made to return it.
What shred of journalistic integrity does Wired still possess?
Speaking of no journalistic integrity
So say you’re Dan Gallagher and Rex Crum and you need a sensational bit on Apple written up for MarketWatch. What do you do? Get on the horn with Roger Kay and Rob Enderle. Seriously, because who else can generate outrageous fear mongering negativity about Apple like these two shameless corporate shills who have never ever said anything remotely non-negative about Apple?
The story is about Apple reporting the theft of its prototype. The angle: “Analysts” (that’s Kay and Enderle, they’re the analysts forming the backbone of this “story”) say Apple is going to look bad for reporting the crime. Analyst Kay sounded like he just randomly picked a generic Apple FUD fortune cookie from his basket. “There is no way that this is not negative in some way for the company,” Kay said. Wow, with insight like that, you could be kept in perpetual employment as blogger fodder without every needing to be right, or even specific.
Remember when Kay told NPR, “You have to squeeze your fat fingers onto this fairly small, glass surface and hope to hit the right key,” well before the iPhone was released and before he had ever touched one? “That could be quite challenging.” What insight this man has.
Enderle’s huffing also sounded curiously familiar, as if the deep scratching of broken record. “Apple has been drifting into looking like the wrong side of their famous Big Brother ad for some time,” Enderle said. MarketWatch described him as “a longtime Silicon Valley technology analyst.” To emphasize the potential fear level that could be involved, Enderle added, “This could easily turn out to be one of the biggest mistakes the firm has ever made because the investigation … could showcase other Apple problems as this story snowballs.”
Yes, it might be revealed that Apple also reported other criminal activities in the past. Who knows, there might be an out of control China Syndrome that erupts into a tempestuous wellspring of bad publicity. Perhaps Enderle could guide us through this maelstrom of public discontent, as he’s worked so furiously to do over the past decade, condemning the iPhone as “damned” and a possible cause of potential rapes because he didn’t realize it could have an emergency call button. Enderle also said the iPhone “signaled the potential end for the stand-alone iPod” and said 2007 “will be a difficult year for Apple, and the iPhone could be more of a drag on earnings than a help.”
Next up, lets interview some Tea Party protesters about whether President Obama is a socialist-fascist or a fascist-socialist. This should generate a substantive news story.
How to avoid getting busted
So what happens when you find something that doesn’t belong to you? Well for starters, you could be a hero and return it to its owner rather than mocking him in public for losing it while parading it around. But if you do happen to stumble upon a hot secret prototype, you might want to take lots of pictures and then try to sell the pictures (not criminally illegal) rather than fence the stolen property (is criminally illegal) and then try to rephrase it after the fact as if you were making some good faith effort to offer exclusive possession to a media outlet who might return it for you. Because that’s amateur pretty crime that will likely get you in pretty deep trouble.
As everyone knows, the police exist to protect affluent people’s property. Mess with rich people’s stuff and you’ll be crushed by the Po-Po if you’re stupid enough to publicly advertise bragging about having bought or sold the stolen merchandize.
What about if you find yourself being busted? Sorry you’re screwed. When the cops take your computers, they don’t give it back. The wheels of justice turn slowly and crush little people. Time to buy new stuff. By the time you get it back, it will be completely obsolete. If the police are bashing your door down, it’s a little late to be thinking about your next move. You’re already remotely wiped.