Fears about the freedom of speech appeared in United States when the Senate Judiciary Committee said it may pass the bill that would force bloggers to disclose their sources of information. Today however both journalists and bloggers feel far more comfortable since Committee decided they will not be obliged to divulge their sources in federal cases.
The Senate Judiciary Committee backed an amended version of the so-called Free Flow of Information Act by a 15-2 vote. Bloggers and journalists should thank to Senators Sam Brownback (Republican from Kansas) and Jon Kyl (Republican from Arizona) said “NO” to the bill.
So called “reporter’s privilege,” can be found through laws or court decisions in 49 states and the District of Columbia. The lates bill however would extend that protection to federal cases, shielding anyone engaged in the practice of “journalism”. There are however a number of exceptions, naturally – from being forced to give up information or to provide testify.
According to the law “journalism” is defined as “the regular gathering, preparing, collecting, photographing, recording, writing, editing, reporting, or publishing of news or information that concerns local, national, or international events or other matters of public interest for dissemination to the public”. The difinition gives protection to some popular political blogs but it definitely brooms up many bloggers.
Even unfamiliar bloggers will not feel sheltered, the broad definition of “journalism” still gives a headache to many politicians. Congressmen from both parties say they don’t think that bloggers should get protection. The argument is that bloggers aren’t keep to the same “code of conduct and ethics” as professional journalists.
Washington Post has published in its Thursday edition an op-ed by U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald who claimed that bill would unwittingly protect Iraqi spies posing as journalists and child pornographers who swappped information on ther web. He has however said that some “newspapers and bloggers” would deserve the safeguards.
One of the amendments that Senate approved excludes known terrorists or agents of foreign countries from the category of journalist and bloggers.
The bill anyway would permit forced disclosure of information in cases where there’s reason to believe a crime has occurred. That means if the any information is “essential” to the investigation, defense or prosecution and etc.