April 20, 2006
Apple Squares Off in Court to Enforce ISP Subpoena
Apple is back in court attempting to enforce a subpoena against an Internet provider seeking the names and communications of individuals who leaked product information to blogger Jason O'Grady and his blog PowerPage. The product in question is code named "Asteroid."
A simple search in a popular search engine gives results that Asteroid is not much more than an audio break-out box/audio interface that will work with Apple's GarageBand application and possibly other third party applications. There are plenty of devices such as this on the market but this product seems aimed at people who don't necessarily need pro audio equipment or have the expertise to use it. At least that's the web assessment from the innuendo and rumor about the product. If interested, do a search (no links here and, please, no law suits) and draw your own conclusion.
Apple is arguing that there is no First Amendment right in cases where trade secrets are leaked. One question in the case is whether bloggers are afforded the same rights as journalists. A report of today's oral argument in MacWorld indicates the issue centered around whether Apple met the Mitchell test which is the standard for when journalists could be compelled to identify informants under California law. A discussion of the Mitchell test is here as well as past developments in this case. At least one judge seemed hostile to Apple's arguments suggesting Apple liked the First Amendment when it helped the company but not when it didn't. Quote the judge: “I know they recognize it, but then they discard it in the interest of making another machine.” (Thanks again to the MacWorld report.)
O'Grady was represented by EFF attorney Kurt Opsahl who argued that Apple had not exhausted its investigative options and that the communications are protected under the federal Stored Communications Act 18 USC 2701 et seq.
The California Appellate Court has 90 days to issue a ruling. In any event, the next step is likely the California Supreme Court. Who knows if this will get as far as the U.S. Supreme Court. No reports are available if Justice Scalia ever went hunting with Steve Jobs.
April 20, 2006 | Permalink
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