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?

Filed Under: journalism, shield law, wikileaks


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Aug 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.

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