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?

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Comments on “Latest Attempt To Create Federal Journalism Shield Law May Carve Wikileaks Out Of The Protections”

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29 Comments
Ryan says:

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.

Bob says:

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.

🙂

James Carmichael (profile) says:

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.

out_of_the_blue says:

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.

Hugh Mann (profile) says:

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

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Hephaestus (profile) says:

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.

chris (profile) says:

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.

Scootah (profile) says:

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.

David (user link) says:

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.

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