Feeds

UK bloggers also likely to be Apple-proof

'Strong protection' for online hacks

Build a business case: developing custom apps

California's Court of Appeal ruled last week that staff at web magazines qualified for journalistic protection. While there has never been a test case in the UK, a Solicitor Advocate says bloggers are likely to enjoy similarly strong protections here.

Apple Computer took a number of news website operators to court in the US to demand that they reveal the source of a product leak. Jason O'Grady of Apple Mac news site PowerPage and others claimed that they were protected by the California shield law, a provision of the California Constitution which prevents journalists being forced to reveal sources of information.

The initial case in the trial court ruled that the sources must be revealed, but the state appeal court overturned that decision. While hailed as a victory for bloggers in the US, the case highlighted the lack of any precedent in the UK on who, exactly, qualifies for journalistic protection.

The California shield law protects "publisher, editor, reporter, or other person connected with or employed upon a newspaper, magazine, or other periodical publication, or by a press association or wire service" and a "radio or television news reporter or other person connected with or employed by a radio or television station."

The equivalent protection for UK journalists is in the Contempt of Court Act of 1981. It states:

"No court may require a person to disclose, nor is any person guilty of contempt of court for refusing to disclose, the source of information contained in a publication for which he is responsible, unless it be established to the satisfaction of the court that disclosure is necessary in the interests of justice or national security or for the prevention of disorder or crime."

So while there is no absolute protection for sources in UK law, the court is required to judge if the request for source identification is sufficiently in the public interest or the interests of justice or national security to over-ride a general presumption of source protection. Recent cases have tended to favour the journalist's right to protect his sources.

In 1990, when Bill Goodwin was about to publish a report in The Engineer on information that suggested that company Tetra was in financial trouble, the company was granted an injunction preventing the publication of the story and sought the identity of Goodwin's source.

While the court initially backed Tetra, Goodwin appealed and argued that the request breached his right to freedom of expression as set out in the European Convention of Human Rights. He also argued that the Contempt of Court Act's demand that sources be identified in the "interests of justice" was too vague to be practical. The court agreed, and allowed Goodwin's source to remain anonymous.

In a case only settled in February of this year, Mirror freelancer Robin Ackroyd was permitted to keep his source confidential in relation to his stories about the hunger strike of Moors murderer Ian Brady. "It has not been convincingly established that there is today a pressing social need that the sources should be identified," ruled Justice Tugenhat.

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Assange™: Hey world, I'M STILL HERE, ignore that Snowden guy
Press conference: ME ME ME ME ME ME ME (cont'd pg 94)
Premier League wants to PURGE ALL FOOTIE GIFs from social media
Not paying Murdoch? You're gonna get a right LEGALLING - thanks to automated software
Online tat bazaar eBay coughs to YET ANOTHER outage
Web-based flea market struck dumb by size and scale of fail
Amazon takes swipe at PayPal, Square with card reader for mobes
Etailer plans to undercut rivals with low transaction fee offer
US regulators OK sale of IBM's x86 server biz to Lenovo
Now all that remains is for gov't offices to ban the boxes
XBOX One will learn to play media from USB and DLNA sources
Hang on? Aren't those file formats you hardly ever see outside torrents?
Class war! Wikipedia's workers revolt again
Bourgeois paper-shufflers have 'suspended democracy', sniff unpaid proles
'Aaaah FFS, 'amazeballs' has made it into the OXFORD DICTIONARY'
Plus: 'EE, how shocking, ANOTHER problem I face with your service'
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.