Should bloggers and online journalists be able to protect anonymous sources?

    by Mark Glaser
    April 21, 2006

    A court of appeals in San Jose, Calif., is listening to arguments in a case relating to Apple gossip sites revealing what Apple terms as “trade secrets” about its products before their release. Earlier a judge ruled that Apple could subpoena the sites’ inside, anonymous sources on these stories in order to punish people inside Apple who were leaking the info. But the Electronic Frontier Foundation believes that online journalists or bloggers should receive the same treatment as mainstream journalists, and be shielded from turning over information on anonymous sources. Apple says this is bunk, that these inside sources aren’t reporting on workplace abuses or wrongdoing, but simply giving away product information before their release — which hurts the company. Many people wonder why Apple can go after these insider sites but not journalists at sites such as CNET or the New York Times, places that break these types of stories all the time.

    What do you think? Should bloggers and other online journalists have legal shields from giving up anonymous sources? Is there a chance someone could set up a blog to pass off trade secrets in the guise of being a journalist? Do we need more laws regulating who’s a journalist online?

    • Martha Page

      Apple is not a government entity, and trade secrets are not information that voters/taxpayers need to know in order to make informed decisions about the people and laws that will govern them.

      Journalists are protected and their sources are protected only when they are dealing with “public” figures. Reputable journalists do not reveal trade secrets.

      So, no, bloggers who deal only in telling their audience what Apple’s new products will be do not deserve the same protection afforded journalists covering government agencies.

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