Afrique Asie Europe Moyen-Orient Internet Nations unies
 
United States30 May 2006

Court ruling protecting bloggers’ sources hailed as historic

Reporters Without Borders today hailed a Californian appeal court’s “historic” decision on 26 May that online journalists and bloggers have the same right to protect their sources as other kinds of journalists. The ruling was issued in a case between the US electronics manufacturer Apple and websites that posted confidential information about some of its products.

“We have often had occasion to stress, especially in connection with this case, that online journalists and bloggers whose activity is similar to journalism should enjoy the same protection as professional journalists working for the traditional media,” the press freedom organisation said.

“We were very shocked Apple’s attempt to ride roughshod over the principle of the confidentiality of sources by trying to make a distinction between bloggers and journalists,” Reporters Without Borders said. “Its position was all the more astonishing as it uses its community of fans, especially the online ones, to get people talking about its products.”

Reporters Without Borders added: “The Californian appeal court’s decision is historic because it gives a new legitimacy to bloggers. Even though they do not have press cards, they will henceforth have right of place in the world of news and information.”

In his ruling, the appeal court judge refused to make a distinction between “legitimate and illegitimate” news reports, warning that any attempt to go down this road would jeopardize the goals of the First Amendment (the constitutional amendment that protects free expression). He rejected Apple’s petition on the grounds of California’s so-called shield law, which protects the confidentiality of journalists’ sources. The text of the ruling (“Apple v. Does”) can be downloaded from the Reporters Without Borders website.

Apple was concerned about the confidential information about its products that was posted on two websites, Powerpage and Appleinsider, and it was trying to identify the employees responsible for these leaks.

It tried to get information from those in charge of the websites, and then from their Internet Service Providers. In December 2004, it asked Nfoc, the company handling Powerpage’s Internet connection, to hand over the e-mail messages received by its editor, Jason O’Grady, as part of the investigation into the leaks about Asteroid, one of the products concerned.

Apple then subpoenaed the Electronic Frontier Foundation - a cyber-freedom group that is defending Powerpage and Appleinsider in this case - demanding the same information. When someone refuses to comply with a subpoena under US law, the dispute can be referred to a judge. In this case, Apple’s subpoena was upheld by a lower court, prompting the referral to an appeal court.


Create your blog with Reporters without borders: www.rsfblog.org



In this country
14 May - United States
Arraignment of suspected mastermind of Chauncey Bailey’s murder postponed again
14 May - United States
Obama opposes release of torture photos
6 May - United States
“To combat Internet censorship, companies cannot be left to act on their own”
4 May - United States
Yusuf Bey IV indicted in Chauncey Bailey’s murder
2 May - United States
Reporters Without Borders welcomes President’s statement in honor of World Press Freedom Day

in the annual report
United States - Annual Report 2008
United States - Annual report 2007
United States - Annual report 2006


reports
14 March 2008 - Cuba
No surrender by independent journalists, five years on from “black spring”
5 June 2007 - Venezuela
Closure of Radio Caracas Televisión consolidates media hegemony
22 May 2007 - Colombia
Paramilitary "black eagles" poised to swoop down on press
archives

Americas press releases
3 June - United States
President Obama urged to raise freedom of expression in his Cairo speech
29 May - Venezuela
Open letter to President Hugo Chavez to protest about official hounding of Globovisión
27 May - Mexico
Crime reporter abducted and killed in Durango state
20 May - Cuba
Anyone can browse the Internet... unless they are Cuban
15 May - Cuba
Journalist gets three-year jail sentence

Americas archives
2009 archives
2008 archives
2007 archives
2006 archives
2005 archives
2004 archives
2003 archives
2002 archives
2001 archives
2000 archives

Sign the petitions
Cuba
Miguel Galván Gutiérrez
Cuba
Fabio Prieto Llorente
United States
Chauncey Bailey
A petition to Raúl Castro