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The Media

Federal Journalist Shield Law Advances 79

A journal entry by twitter alerts us that the US Free Flow of Information Act cleared the House Judiciary Committee last week. It is designed as a shield for the confidential sources of journalists, and the bill's sponsors intend that the definition of "journalist" be broad enough to encompass at least some bloggers. The language voted out of the Judiciary Committee stipulates that protections apply only to those who derive "financial gain or livelihood from the journalistic activity" — this could cover anybody with a blog and an AdWords account, and this worries some opponents. The Register's coverage notes "several exceptions regarding terrorism, national security, imminent death and trade secret leaks." If this act becomes law, it would override all state shield laws, some of which may now provide stronger protections. The bill seems unlikely to go anywhere any time soon as its counterpart in the Senate has received no attention, and in its present form it would likely be opposed by the Bush administration.

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