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.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Kevin, Dec 17th, 2009 @ 10:57pm

    No 4th Branch

    Over here in the U.S. the press isn't a "public watchdog" with any special powers or exemptions or role in government. The closest thing is the First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of speech and of the press. Certainly, the press is free to speak; there is no right to anonymity.

    Does this Article 10 for the EU give the press some sort of a role? I'm unfamiliar with EU laws.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 17th, 2009 @ 10:58pm

    Wholly apart from the above issue, the concept that an unregulated tribunal can try and exercise jurisdiction displacing national sovereignty and national law should indeed be worrisome.

    On a brighter note, the court has recognized under its "human rights" jurisprudence that Article 1 of the governing Convention directed to property does extend to intellectual property.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 17th, 2009 @ 11:06pm

    Re:

    "On a brighter note, the court has recognized under its "human rights" jurisprudence that Article 1 of the governing Convention directed to property does extend to intellectual property."

    That's not a bright note, that's a dark note. Intellectual property does not help most individuals as much as it hurts them, it only helps rich and powerful corporations and more specifically the rich and the powerful at public expense.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Luci, Dec 17th, 2009 @ 11:42pm

    Re: No 4th Branch

    Over here in the US, the press IS a public watchdog, and they most certainly do (in most states) have a right to protect their sources. You're wrong about that right to anonymity, too.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    ., Dec 18th, 2009 @ 1:57am

    Courts in the U.S.

    Have upheld anonynimity as a right for a long time now.

    Besides the constitution also say that even without a law the public still have rights that are not in the constitution.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Enrico Suarve, Dec 18th, 2009 @ 2:49am

    In other news...

    The British government responded to the ruling by stating "Ha ha, we no longer get this information direct from the press anyway, we will just continue to intercept and monitor any emails, phone calls or mail going to the press and investigate any member of the public going into or driving near press buildings."

    Happy non-denominational seasonal festival, and to all of you comrades wasting papaer wrapping your presents please remember if you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear, so why hide the pressies?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anne, Feb 18th, 2010 @ 12:09pm

    This is definitely a good thing, and a bit surprising, since Europe has, Enzyte in the past, often been a bit less protective of the right to speak anonymously.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    rk, Feb 14th, 2013 @ 12:44pm

    In theory its goods but in practice the press are not "watchdogs" and will report any thing to get ratings, including details of an ex minister child having cystic fibrosis, wrongly accusing people of pedophilia which ruins there life, phone hacking, etc .
    In theory, I could say any one, including the reader of this, is a rapist and say my source wants to remain anonymous.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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