Senate Shield Law Would Cover Bloggers

Controversial new measure defines 'journalist' broadly
By Lucas Laursen,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 5, 2007 9:20 AM CDT
Patrick Fitzgerald, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, speaks to reporters at the federal building in Chicago, Friday, July 13, 2007, following the convictions of former media mogul...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – A Senate bill that passed the Judiciary Committee yesterday would give bloggers the “reporter’s privilege” of protecting their sources. The federal shield law defines journalism broadly enough to include bloggers who write about public affairs. Critics, including US attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, say the bill would undermine national security, unintentionally protecting spies posing as journalists and other illegal activity on the internet.

The House also drafted a similar bill in August, but both Justice and the White House are expected to oppose whichever version reaches them. The Senate version is riddled with amendments and exceptions, excluding spies and terrorists from the category of journalist and forcing disclosure of sources in cases of “significant and articulable harm to the national security.”