Wednesday, September 25, 2013

New Senate Bill on journalist shield would probably not protect bloggers; a note on comments monitoring

There is a report on the Free Flow of Information Act of 2013, in the Senate, as offering source confidentiality protection to “professional” journalists (paid to do it for a living) but not to amateur bloggers, and with an exception when there is a real threat of violent crime or terrorism. The Tennessean has an article “Who in the Wiki-age is a journalist” here.   (paywall may be present).  The law is worded so to as exclude someone who intends to leak classified material illegally.  Diane Feinstein (D-CA) said she can’t consider every blogger a professional journalist getting anonymity protection.  Police, for example, would have discretion in going after gang leaders or drug dealers mentioned in amateur blogs and expecting bloggers to disclose them.  
Govtrack has a page for S. 987 for the Free Flow of Informaiton Act, here. 

I have received a few “tips” over the years and on a few occasions have called authorities and not published them.  One tip may have been related to a possible overseas terrorist attack on a bar or club in a southeast Asian country. It did not happen, and a major arrest occurred a few days after I passed on the email.  I don’t know if my information was used or not.
On another matter, let me note that many “anonymous” comments get marked as potential spam before they come to me.  Although I can publish anonymous comments, I strongly prefer a real ID (preferably from a Google account) even if it is a pseudonym.  Use of some sort of ID greatly improves the chances that the comment will be seen as legitimate and be published.  I do welcome criticism and do welcome comments that disagree with what I say.  Just, as with anything online, use common sense.  Don’t send “true” (or false) confessions.  

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