Amendment Would Deny Protections to Bloggers

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Amendment Would Deny Protections to Bloggers

Legislative Analysis by Tim Jones

WASHINGTON - Since 2007, Congress has been slowly considering The Free Flow Of Information Act.
The bill is intended to prevent reporters from being forced to reveal
the identity of anonymous sources. It was proposed in the wake of the Valerie Plame scandal, in which New York Times reporter Judith Miller was jailed for refusing to reveal a source.

It's a critically important bill which unfortunately contains some
rather large loopholes. A source can be exposed in cases where
corporate trade secrets have been revealed, where national security could be harmed, or even where it's simply deemed to be in "the public interest."

Despite these flaws, the bill remains insufficiently dismantled for the
tastes of some lawmakers. Senator Chuck Schumer last week introduced an
amendment that would exempt bloggers, freelancers and other non-salaried journalists from the protections.

This is just baldly nonsensical. As EFF successfully argued in Apple v. Does
in 2006, the goal of a shield law is to protect the free flow of
information, not the the people we historically think of as
journalists. Freedom of speech shouldn't be dependent on employment
status.

When pressed
by blogger "Kos" Moulitsas on the issue, Senator Schumer's office
claimed that the amendment was a mere procedural ploy, and said he
would "work to make sure" bloggers are protected in the final bill.
Let's hope he's sincere.

EFF has fought
long and hard to ensure that bloggers have the same legal protections
as journalists, and will be watching this bill closely. If the
anti-blogger amendment moves forward, we'll be working to defeat it.

To learn more, I recommend reading this recent article on the Schumer amendment by Jason Linkins, and/or this 2007 article on the shield law by EFF's Jennifer Granick.

Related Issues: Bloggers' Rights

Related Cases: Apple v. Does

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EFF is the leading civil liberties group defending your rights in the digital world. EFF fights for freedom primarily in the courts, bringing and defending lawsuits even when that means taking on the US government or large corporations.

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