image: Northern Advocate

Far be it from me to leap to conclusions about a police investigation, but let me say in response to this:

It’s Cannabis & Co – cops

By Alanah May Eriksen | NZ Herald | Wednesday Apr 28, 2010

A national indoor gardening chain would not have turned a profit if it hadn’t been knowingly supplying equipment and advice to cannabis growers, police say.

Directors, managers and staff from the 16 Switched On Gardener stores – which are advertised on national television – around the country have been arrested and charged as part of Operation Lime which targeted businesses responsible for the commercial sale of equipment used to grow cannabis.

I considered buying a commercial unit in Manukau City that had one of these types of hydroponic gardening shops in it and, well … I think the cops might have a point.

And this:

[Police] swooped on 35 businesses and at least 100 homes throughout New Zealand.
More than 250 suspects were arrested, and 750 charges are likely to be laid.

…kind of puts the wailing and gnashing of teeth about Gizmodo editor Jason Chen being served with a search warrant into perspective.

That said, I did wake this morning with a keen sense of empathy for Chen. I would HATE to have all my MacBook and MacBook Pro computers, hard drives, USB sticks, servers, Apple airport “exstream” [sic] base stations, mobile phones (including his iPhone), BRAND NEW Apple iPad etc seized unexpectedly like that. Horrible! (What’s he gonna do? Funny if he has to buy a bunch more Apple equipment to replace his seized gear in the meantime. Hope he had off-site backups like DropBox.)

Meanwhile the journalistic disquiet, hate-fest in some quarters and silly personal abuse being thrown at Apple CEO Steve Jobs by people who should know better for the actions of the police are remarkable.

My view: Gizmodo and Gawker and Chen aren’t being persecuted for journalism, they’re being investigated for buying (by law) stolen goods. As The Macalope summarised the Electronic Fronter Foundation’s willingly(?) missing-the-point argument:

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

Gizmodo/Gawker’s bad taste and adolescent attitudes, e.g. thumbing their noses at security conscious Apple, thinking they’re above the law because they’re ‘badass bloggers’ (i.e. not journalists) and, worst, needlessly outing the engineer who they say ‘lost’ the iPhone they paid $5000 to ‘obtain’ — right down to publishing his Facebook profile photo and extracts from his FB wall — offensive and puerile as they are, probably aren’t a crime. Receiving stolen property is.