The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) on Tuesday won the right to unseal court documents from Apple Computer. The documents show that Apple planned to subpoena the anonymous sources of two reporters from AppleInsider and PowerPage before conducting an investigation inside the company.
The lawsuit was brought against the sites when they printed articles about “Asteroid,” rumored to be a FireWire audio interface for GarageBand — Apple claimed violation of trade secret law.
The First Amendment and the California Constitution require that Apple exhaust all other alternatives before trying to subpoena journalists. Lawyers claimed the journalists should be protected by the First Amendment, an argument the group lost in court and appealed earlier this year.
Documents in the case show that Apple never took depositions, never issued subpoenas (other than to the journalists) and never asked for signed declarations or information under oath from its own employees, according to the EFF.
Apple argued that the internal investigation itself was a trade secret and should be sealed from opposing counsel. EFF lawyers successfully argued to have the documents unsealed.
“Now the public can examine this new information, which clearly shows that the only computer forensics conducted by Apple were a search of Apple’s email servers and a rudimentary examination of a single file server. Apple did not examine employees’ individual work computers or other devices capable of storing or transmitting electronic information, examine any telephone records, look at copy machines, or otherwise investigate the possibility that information about ‘Asteroid’ was transmitted by means other than email. Moreover, as public documents already showed, Apple did not even obtain sworn statements from employees who had access to the leaked ‘Asteroid’ specs.”
Apple representatives were not immediately available for comment.