Why Does Everything Suck (WDES) asks an excellent question:
Why is it so easy for these huge private companies to get law enforcement to do their bidding?
WDES is referring specifically to Apple, Inc., and AT&T, suggesting that they have somehow managed to get the local police force in Cupertino, CA, and the federal officials of the FBI, respectively, to do their bidding.
First, Apple had its fourth generation iPhone prototype stolen and an editor of the website that purchased the stolen phone has been investigated by local law enforcement. No charges have been filed, but there appear to be grounds for charges related to purchase and/or possession of stolen property. WDES is wrong that “what law enforcement is really doing here is creating a punishment for having exposed Apple’s secret.” It seems very likely that the police had probable cause to believe that a crime had been committed and the cops have duly investigated. As Jason Calcanis put it:
If you offer to pay someone for stolen goods you are, well, a criminal (or, if you prefer, a fence, as Loren Feldman pointed out in his excellent video on the subject (http://bit.ly/aouSzB). A fence is someone who buys stolen goods for resale later. In this case the later resale is page views and more importantly inbound links, which considering the SEO value makes the $5,000 at a heck of a bargin. Gizmodo and Gawker have made $10M worth of media on this–literally. If you even could buy the air time on TV, radio and the print space they’ve gotten it would cost tens of millions of dollars. Nick Denton is a genius who knows this–and that is why he did this.
That said, WDES is probably right that if this was just another case of a stolen cell phone, the cops wouldn’t be lifting a finger here.
As far as the AT&T matter goes, I’m less well informed so I can’t comment about it. Whatever is going on with that case, the fact remains that huge, private corporations can get both law enforcement and governments to do their bidding because law enforcement agencies and governments have been captured by, and now exist almost entirely for, the benefit of corporations.
Welcome to the corpocracy, our current society, “where the interests of large corporations control economic and political decisions.” If you doubt this is where you live, look no further than the huge bank bailouts of 2008, the auto industry bailouts of 2008, and, most recently, the BP slush fund of 2010. Look to Republican Representative (TX) Joe Barton apologizing to BP for the government’s efforts to make that corporation pay for its crimes. The list goes on and on.
So in answer to WDES’s question: We are all slaves to “the economy” and “the market.” If something is good for private corporations, it’s good for you. If it’s bad for corporations, it’s bad for you, too! Got it? Good.