"When a top-secret prototype of Apple's new iPhone went missing recently, the computer giant summoned Silicon Valley's version of the cavalry â" an elite squad whose main mission is investigating crimes against high-tech companies.
Little-known outside the tech world, the unit suddenly entered the spotlight with its April 23 raid on the San Francisco Bay Area home of Jason Chen, the 29-year-old technology blogger who had gained possession of the phone.
The unit swept in after Chen posted a photo and details of the new iPhone on the Gizmodo.com website. But the raid itself became secondary to a larger discussion in Silicon Valley and the blogosphere: What is this high-tech police force, and who controls it?
"It's the iPolice," said Steve Meister, a former Los Angeles County deputy district attorney. "This whole thing appears, rightly or wrongly, to be law enforcement doing the bidding of a private company."