Thursday, October 1, 2009

UPDATE: White House Dents Proposed Federal Shield Law

The ShieldImage via Wikipedia

The proposed Free Flow of Information Act of 2009, already diluted by Senate amendments, will be positively porous if White House objections to the bill that would create a federal shield law to protect journalists from revealing confidential sources, are incorporated into the measure.

Obama Administration officials want greater flexibility in deciding what qualifies as "national security" and do not want to protect reporters who divulge leaked data concerning national security. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), a principal co-sponsor of the bill along with Sen. Arlen Spector (D-Pa.), eager to move the legislation out of the Senate Judiciary Committee, already has proposed an amendment that would limit protections to individuals working as salaried employees and  independent contractors.

S.B. 448 already has the blessings of the House of Representatives which voted on the bill in March after the House Judiciary Committee gave it its imprimitur.  The Senate Judiciary Committee delayed a scheduled vote on the bill last month (See "TUOL" 9/17/09, 9/18/09). Those who favor a federal shield law claim it will lead to the disclosure of important information if confidential sources are comfortable that their identities will be protected by reporters.

A majority of states have enacted shield laws.

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