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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2679

US Appeal Court rules Online Journalists are protected by Constitution

Daya Gamage - US National Correspondent for Asian Tribune

Washington, DC 28 May (Asiantribune.com): The United States Court of Appeal in the State of California on Friday ruled, overturning a lower court decision, that online journalists are protected by the same confidentiality laws that protect traditional journalists under the First Amendment of the Constitution.

The First Amendment guarantees the freedom of speech, dissent, assembly and other basic rights which cover freedom of the press.

The Appeal Court’s decision nullified the efforts of Apple Computer to identify people who leaked confidential company data to an online journalist.

In its ruling, the appeals court pronounced that online and offline journalists are equally protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The appeal court opined that “we can think of no workable test or principle that would distinguish ‘legitimate’ from ‘illegitimate’ news, and any attempt by courts to draw such a distinction would imperil a fundamental purpose of the First Amendment.”

The Apple Computer argued that the Web sites publishing reports about Apple were not engaged in legitimate news gathering which the Court of Appeal in California dismissed.

The significance of this appeal court decision, according Kurt Opsahl, a lawyer with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, is that what makes a journalist is not the format but the function.

- Asian Tribune -

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