‘Enforcement’ of free press

Police need to understand laws regarding the treatment of the press.

CaliforniaâÄôs Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team (REACT) raided the home of Gizmodo editor Jason Chen on Friday, seizing four computers, two servers and numerous external hard drives. We are waiting for Apple to admit it was an over-âÄúreaction,âÄù because the incident appears to center around an Apple iPhone prototype that tech blog Gizmodo purchased for $5,000 after the device was found, strangely, left at a bar. Chillingly, the raid occurred in California, where the press is protected by laws that shield journalists from searches and seizures for news gathering. In another example of the national press corps being trampled by a burgeoning police state, a Virginia student newspaper, The Daily Breeze, was raided by Rockingham County police, who seized 600 photographs related to an off-campus riot during the collegeâÄôs Springfest. According to the Breeze, police also confiscated 300 unrelated photographs. They say all were taken to identify those involved in criminal conduct. Incredibly, the University of South FloridaâÄôs Oracle newspaper ran an editorial arguing the seizure was justified to âÄúcatch criminals.âÄù After a disruptive party at last yearâÄôs Spring Jam, University of Minnesota officials contacted The Minnesota Daily for photographs to help identify students involved. The Daily declined the request. To help the public reinforce our nationâÄôs tenuously weak press, let us hope legal challenge to the Gizmodo raid is successful and that bloggers are found to be journalists. Finally, the next time police come knocking at the press, let us remind them that newspapers exist to hold the leaders in a democratic society accountable; the press is not an arm of what some may still call law âÄúenforcement.âÄù