The Great iPhone 5 Panty Raid happened after all, after having initially denied it. The San Francisco police department said.

What is the meaning of that? The fanciful story appears to be real after all. Set aside whether the prototype in question was really an iPhone 5 unit or whether Apple was merely trying to retrieve some kind of arbitrary test unit which isn’t set to become a consumer product.

The story appears to be that police aided Apple in turning out some guy’s apartment amid the only evidence involved being that the tracking signal from the lost unit was emanating from inside, allowing Apple employees to essentially moonlight as unofficial officers of the law. Too much is not known as of yet (and may never be) to make any firm judgments: were there warrants involved, for instance? But either way, if even the general plot of this iPhone 5 story is true, it marks a disturbing trend in which Apple (and presumably other Northern California companies like it) are getting away with acting as their own secret private police force – and local law enforcement is supporting it.

Last year I was harsh on Gizmodo for posting pictures and specs of the iPhone 4 prototype it bought from a guy who found it in a bar after Apple lost it. The public’s right to know the specs of an upcoming not-yet-announced cellphone didn’t outweigh Apple’s right to trade secrets. But a week later, when Apple lost its mind and had local Silicon Valley police busting down the door of a journalist to retrieve it, I was just as harsh on Apple. Sure, all the company did in that instance was report the unit as stolen property. But Apple had to know that it would result in the ugly scenario of tech journalist’s home being raided, and somewhere, that crossed a line for me. The most disturbing part was that Apple was apparently able to pull the strings of the local police as if they were mere marionettes. And now the iPhone 5 story offers up even more potential chills.

Once again, the details of the iPhone 5 prototype story are all sketchy, unverifiable, and still changing. On its own, I’d be tempted to overlook the incident as the desperate panic move of a company which lost a valuable piece of secret technology. But when paired up with what played out last year, it’s more than a little disconcerting to picture Apple employees raiding some guy’s house with the local police department acting as escorts. If I called up the local police and told them that I had a hunch my neighbor had found my lost cellphone and wouldn’t give it back, do you really think they’d set things up so I could go in an raid the place? Nope, because I’m not the police. But neither is Apple.

This isn’t specific to Apple, of course. If one Bay Area company is getting away with acting like this, then it means they all are. As in most cases, this incident is probably only getting reported on at all because it’s Apple: a company which simultaneous generates massive headline interest from the public, and is hated by most tech headline writers who despise Apple products for being pro-mainstream and anti-geek. Any chance the tech headlines get to embarrass Apple, they’re going to do it, both for reasons of attention and agenda. In other words, I suspect other tech companies in the area get away with this kind of “we are the police” nonsense all the time, and no one reports on it. But the fact that we now know it’s going on, and in more than just one isolated instance (two in two years for Apple alone), and that it now involves multiple police departments granting area tech companies the same above-the-law powers, let’s just say that this story brings chilling effect with it which runs much deeper than the notion that Apple might have been goofy enough to have lost an iPhone 5 test unit in a bar a year after losing an iPhone 4 unit in the same manner. Here’s more on the iPhone 5.
Via: [Source]
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