European Court Of Human Rights Says Press Can Protect Anonymous Sources
from the common-sense dept
While here in the US, we're still fighting over a federal shield law that will let journalists protect their sources, Michael Scott points us to the news that the European Court of Human Rights recently ruled that the media can protect anonymous sources.
The Court reiterates that freedom of expression constitutes one of the essential foundations of a democratic society and that, in that context, the safeguards guaranteed to the press are particularly important. Furthermore, protection of journalistic sources is one of the basic conditions for press freedom. Without such protection, sources may be deterred from assisting the press in informing the public on matters of public interest. As a result, the vital "public watchdog" role of the press may be undermined and the ability of the press to provide accurate and reliable reporting may be adversely affected. Having regard to the importance of the protection of journalistic sources for press freedom in a democratic society and the potentially chilling effect that an order for disclosure of a source has on the exercise of that freedom, such a measure cannot be compatible with Article 10 unless it is justified by an overriding requirement in the public interest.This is definitely a good thing, and a bit surprising, since Europe has, in the past, often been a bit less protective of the right to speak anonymously.