The furore surrounding WikiLeaks continues this week, as US Senators reportedly working on a “media-shields” legislation to protect journalists from revealing sources are making amendments to ensure no such protection can be afforded to the whistleblowing site.
According to a report by the NYTimes.com, senators Charles Schumer and Dianne Feinstein are drafting the amendment to outline that the bill’s protections would “extend only to traditional news-gathering activities and not to websites that serve as a conduit for the mass dissemination of secret documents”.
Quoting Schumer in a statement he claims the amendments will ensure there is no chance of the law ever being used to protect websites like WikiLeaks.
WikiLeaks should not be spared in any way from the fullest prosecution possible under the law. Our bill already includes safeguards when a leak impacts national security, and it would never grant protection to a website like this one, but we will take this extra step to remove even a scintilla of doubt.
According to the NYTimes.com report, the new bill would require a person to “exhaust all other means” of getting the names they desire before they could take a journalist to court. But they add the amendment may be unecessary due to the method by which the website sources and stores its information.
According to WikiLeaks, the website uses a technology which makes it impossible to trace the source of documents that are submitted to it. So even if the organisation were compelled to disclose a source, it is not clear that it would be able to do so
Also in WikiLeaks news, the Washington Post reports that the Broadcasting Board of Governors have ordered that the Voice of America “may proceed with reporting on the disclosure of classified documents”. This follows claims that IT personnel at the International Broadcasting Bureau told VOA journalists not to read or email the material on government computers.
The matter was added to the agenda at Friday’s gathering of the new board, which passed a unanimous resolution in closed session that “authorized the Director of the Voice of America to proceed with reporting on the disclosure of classified documents available on the WikiLeaks website in a manner that is consistent with the VOA Charter and the BBG’s statutory mission, and to balance this effort with due consideration for the laws and executive orders” on using classified information.