The Ugly Side Of Apple Computer
Apple Computer was in appeals court this week defending an appeal by the Electronic Frontier Foundation who is representing the Apple news site PowerPage.org. In March 2005, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge James P. Kleinberg ruled Apple’s attempt to subpoena the electronic records of an Apple news site could proceed. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is hoping the appeals court will disallow the subpoena which would specify who leaked information about the Asteroid FireWire audio interface for GarageBand, a “secret” Apple product. The subpoena is pending during the appeals process.
According to an interview on CNET, Kurt Opsahl, an attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, articulated, “the California Court of Appeals has a long history of protecting freedom of the press…we’re hopeful they’ll continue to do so.”
Interestingly, Apple is not suing the Mac news sites directly. The subpoena has been sent to Nfox.com, PowerPage’s e-mail provider, who will hand over the docments if required to do so legally. In addition to Nfox.com Apple is ready to sobpoena more still-unnamed John Doe defendants.
Apple is one of only a few technology companies that vehemently goes after reporters peddling their “trade secrets” to the world. However, Apple only seems to go after small online reporters and does not attack other major publications including the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times. Recently, CNET, a fine online magazine, was the first to report that Apple was going to switch to Intel chips in their computers, a seemingly larger “secret” then a simple FireWire sound card. However, Apple did not issue them a subpoena or sue them. Apple’s attacks have the same stink as the Recording Industry Association of America’s (RIAA) suits against poor 12 year girls who happened to trade a few 50 Cent tracks online.
Apple’s policy is that they are protecting vital trade secrets, but sites like Powerpage.org argue freedom of the press. In court documents Apple states that Web journalists are not “legitimate members of the press.” Something that is currently being debated between bloggers and traditional journalists. With high profile cases of established journalists gone bad, the argument could certainly go either way.
“Unlike the whistleblower who discloses a health, safety or welfare hazard affecting all, or the government employee who reveals mismanagement or worse by our public officials, online news sites are doing nothing more than feeding the public’s insatiable desire for information,” stated Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge James P. Kleinberg, who ruled in favor of Apple.
For more information about the case watch CNET’s Declan McCullagh, a painful to watch- stammering dweeb, interview Kurt Opsahl, Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Attorney.
The Future: The question for the court comes down to: Should online reporters receive the same rights as traditional journalists? Apple says “Hell No!” when it comes to revealing info about their upcoming products and “trade secrets.” But should Apple set the precedent for online reporting just because they want to keep an upcoming soundcard confidential? We say no!