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The Apple rumour site Think Secret has posted a note saying that it has reached a settlement with Apple over the lawsuit the computer company filed against it for leaking company secrets, and that it is “a positive solution for both sides.” No doubt any kind of settlement that doesn’t involve millions of dollars or jail time is a relief for Nick Ciarelli — the Harvard student who ran the site and has been hounded by Apple for several years now — but I fail to see how it’s positive for anyone.

This case is separate from another case involving bloggers and company secrets, in which Apple tried to get PowerPage, AppleInsider and Think Secret to reveal the names of the sources they got their information from. In that case, a lower court ruled that the bloggers weren’t protected by California’s “journalist shield” law, and that they would have to turn over the information — but an appeals court disagreed, saying they were entitled to the same protection as journalists.

Think Secret was sued separately for divulging trade secrets — and while the site didn’t have to turn over the names of its sources, it has still been forced to shut down. Meanwhile, Apple comes off looking like some power-crazed South American dictator, the kind who can’t stand it when the media reveal government secrets and so arrests the entire press corps. I know that keeping secrets and then revealing them to an adoring public at Macworld is a time-honoured Jobs tradition, but this is ridiculous.

As Mike Masnick notes at Techdirt, this will have a chilling effect on journalists — and I’m including publications like Think Secret and Apple Insider in that description. Apple should be ashamed of itself. My blogging friend Rex Hammock has a moving tribute to Think Secret here.

Update:

Ars Technica has a good overview of the case and those that preceded it — and according to the EFF, Nick Ciarelli is pretty happy with the settlement (which the EFF suggests Apple was in danger of losing). If he got a half-decent settlement, then I’m glad. But I still think it sends the wrong message to shut the site down.

About the author

Mathew 2429 posts

I'm a Toronto-based senior writer with Fortune magazine, and my favorite things to write about are social technology, media and the evolution of online behavior

30 Responses to “Think Secret: Damn you, Steve Jobs”
  1. […] them to an adoring public at Macworld is a time-honoured Jobs tradition, but this is ridiculous. Matthew Ingram The guy behind Think Secret notes that he never gave up the source, and calls this settlement […]

  2. […] Bad move Apple. You should be ashamed of yourself. […]

  3. On the other hand… Apple has every right to protect its interests. Think Secret (whom i've read for years) knew exactly what game they were playing and it was fun while it lasted.. but Apple as a South American dictator? What over-the-top nonsense. Surely journalistic and blogger exaggeration is just as chilling in that it too is the enemy of truth?

  4. So a company has no rights when it comes to trying to protect their information? I'm OK with the site existing I guess (in fact, I've been there a time or two myself..), and I'm OK with them being able to publish what they choose (Anything less would be censorship, correct? And we don't want that.). But when Apple cornered them, they wouldn't say where they got their information from. As far as a journalist protecting his/her sources..come on guys, are we talking about Watergate-sized issues here, or a company's product lineup? Does the public 'need to know this'? Did I really 'need' to know whatever I went to TS to read about in the past? Somebody yell out “slippery slope!”, but I can't give the same weight to this.

  5. Mathew, just read your reply to Rikk.. I don't think it's any better when the WSJ does it either. Like most things in life, there is more grey here for me than black and white.

  6. Im sure Apple paid Think Secret a nice big price for the domain name and website .

  7. […] sites think twice before taking on big companies like Apple. As Fake Steve comments, in response to a post by Matthew Ingram, “We did not shut down Think Secret. That did not happen. Okay? That’s not reality. […]

  8. Wow you are a prize prick. I came across you recently and find what you write to be so pointless it makes good reading. Apple is a company that has every right to protect its private information. It has shareholders, employees and customers! Spotty teenagers and juvenile journalists think its one big joke and they have some right to say what they like.

  9. Apple has every right to protect itself. Apple is no different than any other company except, perhaps, they're more aggressive. In a perfect world, if Think Secret did nothing wrong, then there would be no settlement and Apple would have to take a hike. I'm not naive. I realize that Apple may have been able to shut them down simply because Think Secret couldn't afford the legal fees to fight Apple. But, then again, Apple may indeed have been in the right. Why does everyone automatically assume that Apple (or for that matter, any large company) is simply a bully?

  10. […] Hyndman, are looking at the closure of ThinkSecret a little differently than I did yesterday (in a post that got me a smackdown from no less than Fake Steve Jobs himself — thanks for crashing my […]

  11. […] Hyndman, are looking at the closure of ThinkSecret a little differently than I did yesterday (in a post that got me a smackdown from no less than Fake Steve Jobs himself — thanks for crashing my […]

  12. Why is this bad? It SHOULD be illegal to reveal company secrets. It’s not like Think Secret was a whistleblower for illegal government practices.

  13. […] work once everyone knows who’s behind it? I’m not sure. But when you have to resort to lashing out at the likes of yours truly — as FS did when I wrote my Think Secret post — maybe […]

  14. Someone should pick this up, call it Think Stealthy or something.

  15. EyeThink Secret

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