Greetings. An extremely interesting analysis of the ongoing "lost next-generation iPhone" case has appeared over on Daring Fireball -- it's very much worth reading.
I agree very much with the thrust of that article.
And now let's bring some ethical analysis explicitly into the mix as well.
The behavior of the iPhone "finder" -- who then sold the phone to Gizmodo -- and Gizmodo's actions, were both ethically atrocious.
Gizmodo, in their desire for a scoop, appears to have willingly committed acts that were obviously unethical (and in the current case quite possibly illegal). This is a pattern we see all too often in high-tech particularly when it comes to ethics, and indeed specifically on the Internet. In a rush to "monetization," basic ethics -- of the kind that your parents hopefully taught you when you were a child -- can get tossed aside as inconvenient bottlenecks. Facebook's recent privacy-abusive actions come particularly to mind in this ethical context.
Right now the Net is all abuzz about the police raid on the Gizmodo editor's home. I'll let law enforcement, lawyers, and perhaps the courts figure that one out. But I'm also seeing a new meme being established calling Apple a "thug" in relation to that raid, as if the officers involved were members of a private Apple security force.
As regular readers know, I'm no Apple fanboy. And I'm already on record as recommending that Apple not seriously punish the engineer who lost the iPhone, nor pursue civil litigation in this case.
But the new attempts to shift blame to Apple are disingenuous, and the associated ethical abominations committed by both the iPhone "finder/seller," and by Gizmodo as the iPhone "buyer/disassembler/publicizer," are cast in stone regardless of whether or not criminal and/or civil charges are ever filed in this matter, and irrespective of whether or not the police raid was actually appropriate.
If the finder of the iPhone who sold it to Gizmodo for $5K, and Gizmodo as well who willingly paid the money, had both behaved ethically in the first place, this entire mess could have been avoided, and many observers, including myself, wouldn't feel so utterly disgusted at the behavior of some presumably smart techies who really should have known better.