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FBI Contacts Gawker About iPad Security Breach

A formal request to preserve all documents related the disclosure of 114,000 email addresses of Apple iPad owners has been issued to Gawker as part of an FBI investigation.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has asked Gawker Media to preserve all documents related to a possible security breach on AT&T's website that led to the disclosure of 114,000 email addresses of Apple iPad owners, including those of high-profile celebrities and politicians.

Gawker Media reported on the incident Wednesday, after it was contacted by a small group of computer experts that claimed responsibility for the hack. Goatse Security said it entered AT&T network in order to show that the personal data of iPad users is not fully secure.

Gawker said on its ValleyWag blog that the FBI contacted the media company Thursday.

"We can confirm that Gawker Media was contacted by the FBI earlier today and issued a formal preservation notice," the company said.

FBI spokespeople have confirmed to media outlets that the agency has opened an investigation into the incident.

Goatse said in a blog that it contacted journalist Ryan Tate at Gawker after confirming AT&T had closed the security hole. The carrier said it fixed the flaw on Tuesday.

"We did not contact AT&T directly, but we made sure that someone else tipped them off and waited for them to patch until we gave anything to Gawker," Goatse said in its defense. "This is as 'nice guy' as it gets."

Goatse said iPad users had the right to know their email addresses were not secure, so they could take security steps, such as changing the addresses.

"This was done in service of the American public," Goatse said of the hack.

Whether the FBI sees the hack in the same light as Goatse remains to be seen. In the meantime, the disclosure was an embarrassment to AT&T and Apple. In addition, the incident has give AT&T subscribers one more complaint against the carrier, which has been criticized for poor service as the exclusive U.S. service provider for the Apple iPhone and iPad.

While there have been many media reports that Apple is considering adding another carrier partner, the company has always expressed support for AT&T and has never confirmed it was talking to other potential carrier partners.

However, the stakes are high, given the popularity of Apple's devices, The company has sold more than 2 million iPads since launching the tablet-style computer April 3rd.