Latest Attempt To Create Federal Journalism Shield Law May Carve Wikileaks Out Of The Protections

from the petty,-much? dept

With so much attention getting paid to Wikileaks lately -- and with some politicians insisting that the site is guilty of treason, it should come as little surprise that no US politician wants to be seen proposing a law that somehow helps Wikileaks. We've written in the past about the (very much needed) effort to create a federal shield law for journalists, allowing them to protect their sources. Of course, part of the issue is who counts as a "journalist." In the past there's been a lot of back and forth and back and forth over whether or not "amateur" journalists could qualify -- but one thing that the folks working on the bill now want to make sure: it won't apply to Wikileaks (sent in by paperbag).

Apparently Senators Chuck Schumer and Dianne Feinstein are quickly drafting a special amendment that says the law wouldn't apply to "websites that serve as a conduit for the mass dissemination of secret documents." That's obviously targeted directly at Wikileaks, but it certainly could impact other sites that store documents as well, and that could create problems. I understand the political reasoning behind this, but it seems silly and only likely to cause more problems. And, of course, it won't have any real impact on Wikileaks anyway. Not only is the organization not based in the US, but it designed its system to act as a technological shield law, anyway. So, the law won't impact Wikileaks, but will almost certainly end up creating unintended consequences for other sites. All for political capital. Wouldn't it be nice if we had politicians who did what's right for once, rather than what's politically expedient?


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 2:46pm

    "not to websites that serve as a conduit for the mass dissemination of secret documents"

    What about secret corporate documents showing corporations to either behave unethically or break laws?

     

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

  2.  
    identicon
    Ryan, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 2:54pm

    Even better

    So, the law won't impact Wikileaks, but will almost certainly end up creating unintended consequences for other sites. All for political capital. Wouldn't it be nice if we had politicians who did what's right for once, rather than what's politically expedient?

    I wish politicians wouldn't do anything. If they'd just sat on their fat, lazy asses for the past hundred years as the rest of us were able to progress without having to deal with the constant consequences of their actions(intended or otherwise), we'd unquestionably be better off.

     

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

  3.  
    icon
    crade (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 2:55pm

    Re:

    or showing the gov't behaving unethically or breaking laws? :)

     

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

  4.  
    identicon
    MrWilson, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 3:30pm

    Re: Even better

    But...but...how will the corporate dinosaurs preserve their obsolete business models if they can't pay for legislation to keep technology from advancing.

     

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

  5.  
    identicon
    Big Al, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 3:55pm

    Re: Re: Redundant

    Corporations and government are slowly becoming one and the same...

     

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

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 4:11pm

    Do Feinstein and right go together, ever?

     

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

  7.  
    icon
    James Carmichael (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 4:51pm

    Isn't the government supposed to be us, the people? Or is it a separate entity that can do whatever it wants? If so, what about subcontracting politics to third world countries? They'd almost feel MORE liable for their mistakes.

    WikiLeaks is exposing information we're hiding from ourselves. 'National Security' is the mother of the all-encompassing political bull**** buzzword.

     

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

  8.  
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 5:27pm

    Three steps down the rabbit hole.

    From "old news" to "blood on their hands" to journalism only by permission. And it won't stop there.

    Does anyone even remember that the documents show the US committing atrocities and at best unconscionable "collateral damage"? No, it's *Wikileaks* who has "blood on their hands", not the people who are actually committing murders. It's all been *reversed* into a propaganda PLUS.

    I think we're now seeing the true purpose(s) of Wikileaks, and that despite the *good* that their reputation-establishing video did, it's highly likely to be an intelligence op. The "leaked" documents tend to support starting new wars in Pakistan and Iran because the "Taliban" or whichever boogeyman is said to have moved out of Afghanistan. -- Oh, and "Bin Laden", who's been reliably reported dead for years, and certainly not seen in any verifiable way, has been resurrected as a threat.

     

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

  9.  
    identicon
    Lawrence D'Oliveiro, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 5:50pm

    “... rather than what’s politically expedient ...”

    Hands up all those who would vote for that...

     

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

  10.  
    icon
    Hugh Mann (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 6:11pm

    No shield law necessary

    Journalists should not get any protections that private citizens don't get. Journalists operate under the First Amendment, and should have exactly the same rights as private citizens - no more and no less.

    Just like if I were to stand on a street corner and start announcing information I had uncovered, a journalist who demonstrates he has knowledge of, say, a criminal act, may very well become of interest to the proper authorities, and may in fact be a material witness.

    Journalists should also be subject to all the limitations on First Amendment exercise that I am. They can't do the equivalent of shouting "fire" in a crowded theatre. They can't defame people (i.e., they should be subject to being called to account for the truthfulness of their articles). Etc., etc., etc.

    Until we can get someone like Walter Cronkite back, who was widely regarded as an objective reporter of facts and not a biased mouthpiece or sensationalist, I'm not inclined to grant any sort of privileges at all to journalists. They don't deserve 'em.

    HM

     

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

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 6:33pm

    Re: No shield law necessary

    Chuck Schumer seems to be an irrelevant Jackass who will say and support anything that gets him camera and web time. He is the kind of opportunistic scum that should be gone in his next election cycle. Dianne Feinstein seems to have become even more irrelevant, and out of touch than Schumer. Hopefully she will also be gone soon! Disclosure: My normal inclination is to support Democrats, but I think these two are Congressional incompetents who need to be voted out at the earliest possible opportunity.

     

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

  12.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 6:37pm

    reminds me of the

     

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

  13.  
    identicon
    Radjin, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 7:11pm

    Re:

    No, and to add to the no-right list:

    1. Boxer
    2. Pelosi

     

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

  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 7:53pm

    "websites that serve as a conduit for the mass dissemination of secret documents"

    Isn't that just about every news organization that gets a hold of an interesting/secret newsworthy document? You really think if the NYTimes didn't get the documents that they'd have put them (or the information in them) out there.

     

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

  15.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 8:43pm

    I think corruption is contagious, Giulianni's daughter was arrested recently for shoplifting.

    Miss America 1992 also was arrested recently for shoplifting, that may explain Palin tendencies.

     

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

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 5th, 2010 @ 9:08pm

    Re:

    Also note, why do you suppose they are so concerned about the release of information on Afghan citizens? Is it to protect those citizens? I think not. It's more to ensure that the harm the U.S. military has done to those citizens doesn't become widely known.

     

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

  17.  
    icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Aug 5th, 2010 @ 10:25pm

    Definition of the word treason ...

    "with some politicians insisting that the site is guilty of treason"

    def : Treason - The betrayal of one's own country by waging war against it or by consciously or purposely acting to aid its enemies.

    WikiLeaks is a Swedish organization. As such is not bound by US law but Swedish and EU law. As such Treason doesnt apply.

    "websites that serve as a conduit for the mass dissemination of secret documents."

    There go the whistle blower laws.

     

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

  18.  
    icon
    chris (profile), Aug 6th, 2010 @ 8:41am

    this actually makes wikileaks happy

    per this tweet (https://twitter.com/wikileaks/status/20264960442):

    US senators try to gut shield bill; great! All the more leaks for us and Iceland http://nyti.ms/96bjh1 http://bit.ly/dh8bx6

    wikileaks' purpose is to upset governments. political rants, grandstanding, and dubious law passing plays directly into their hands.

     

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

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 10th, 2010 @ 5:46am

    do whats right?? maybe that traitor shouldn't have released those documents

    hes no hero, he a traitor, and should be shot

     

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

  20.  
    icon
    Scootah (profile), Aug 15th, 2010 @ 6:26pm

    Treason and Traitors

    Maybe (I do have an opinion, but it's not relevant to the point) - but maybe, parties who have leaked documents to Wikileaks are guilty of Treason or are Traitors - but as far as I can tell, Wikileaks isn't a US organisation and the owner and primary operators aren't US citizens.

    On one hand, I know that most American's are smart, and not unreasonably arrogant. On the other hand - it's getting really easy to generalize American's as having no grasp of the fact that there is a world outside of America and that people who don't have any particular interest in American law or American national interest aren't necessarily part of the terrorist conspiracy.

     

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

  21.  
    identicon
    Bob, Aug 31st, 2010 @ 7:25am

    Re: Even better

    "I wish politicians wouldn't do anything. If they'd just sat on their fat, lazy asses for the past hundred years as the rest of us were able to progress without having to deal with the constant consequences of their actions(intended or otherwise), we'd unquestionably be better off."

    Agree 100%; I'm sick of politicians telling people and companies how to do -their- business. They should be able to charge, philander, and form trusts to break unions to their hearts content.

    Remember that $8,000 tax break for first time home buyers? What a waste of taxpayer money, trying to invigorate a dying market after companies wisely gave billions of dollars in loans to customers who wisely chose to accept them though they didn't actually have the money to pay for their houses...

    That damn 'new deal' the history books tout, that was lame. Let people find their own jobs or starve to death, what are we communists?

    Honestly, if politicians would just stay out of an otherwise perfect system, that .5% of us who managed to snake our way into positions of authority would be just fine. It's that damn 'majority' that keeps getting in the way of good old fashioned democracy.

    :)

     

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

  22.  
    identicon
    Rob, Sep 1st, 2010 @ 1:18pm

    Re: Definition of the word treason ...

    def : Treason - The betrayal of one's own country by waging war against it or by consciously or purposely acting to aid its enemies
    Isn't that a better description of what the people proposing these laws are doing by undermining the Constitution?

     

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

  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2010 @ 1:53pm

    Re: Even better

    Not really true. Something tells me we wouldn't be better off without regulation of Monopolies, the SEC, the Department of Education, and so on.

     

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

  24.  
    identicon
    Free Bastard, Sep 1st, 2010 @ 5:21pm

    Land of the legally free might just need some technical shielding as the government continues to snoop on network switches and exchanges. Tally-ho old chums.

     

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

  25.  
    identicon
    David, Sep 1st, 2010 @ 5:35pm

    Expect this kind of manuevering...

    The newspaper industry if not the entire generic news industry itself is trying to save itself. You can bet that over the next 5 to 10 years, mainstream media enterprises are going to attempt to outlaw, basically, any dissemination conduits that literally make them less interesting (read: less profitable). *All* the mainstream news outlets are both fascinated and terrified by Wikileaks because while Wikileaks is able to publish its cache of secret Afgan war diaries, mainstream media is stuck droning on about new airline baggage fees or the latest thing someone says has some risk of causing cancer. MSM could man up and do what Wikileaks is doing but they do not because they realize it would mean loss of access, loss of content, and loss of advertisers. Wikileaks and sites like it don't play by the rules of that model and the CNNs of the world do not like it one bit. Wait and see.

     

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

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Sep 1st, 2010 @ 7:17pm

    Re:

    You should be shot

     

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

  27.  
    identicon
    extremelynice fefesblogsentence, Sep 1st, 2010 @ 9:47pm

    extremely nice fefesblog sentence linking here now.
    quote (of this sentence) visible on:
    http://wp.me/psdI6-T0

    (warning: cheesepage. recommended for bunnies.)

     

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

  28.  
    identicon
    Josh, Sep 4th, 2010 @ 11:56am

    _[|]_

    again, the jews...

     

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


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This