Agile Computing Authors: Elizabeth White, Pat Romanski, Derek Weeks, Liz McMillan, Carmen Gonzalez

Related Topics: Agile Computing

Agile Computing: Article

Bloggers = Journalists, Says California Court; Apple Loses

California Shield Laws Protect Bloggers from Apple Computer

The very specific California Shield Law came to the rescue of bloggers who were caught in legal crosshairs by Apple, in a decision by a three-judge panel from the state Court of Appeal in San Jose. The bloggers, most prominently Jason O'Gradey and his PowerPage, were vindicated by a decision that addressed whether bloggers have the same protections afforded traditional journalists in their use of confidential sources to reveal confidential, leaked information.

The case at hand involved revelations of a project code-named "Asteroid" that is being developed by Apple Computer in the digital musice space. In this case, Apple had tried to subpoena the bloggers ISP so that it could find e-mail between the bloggers and the confidential source or sources. An initial ruling by the Santa Clara County Superior Court had ruled in Apple's favor.

But the Court of Appeal said Californai's Shield Law "is intended to protect the gathering and dissemination of news, and that is what the (bloggers) did here." The Electronic Frontier Fondation had advocated on the bloggers' behalf. The Foundation invoked the name of Walter Cronkite to back the bloggers, noting that the Most Trusted Man in America has blogged for The Huffington Post, and asking whether he has "stopped being a journalist" because he is now a blogger.

Apple's concern in this issue seemed to be focused on the reality that the Worldwide Web makes it easy for increasing numbers of people to reveal confidential information, especially information that companies consider to be trade secrets.

The case, known officially as O'Grady vs. Santa Clara Superior Court, docket number H028579, can be found at the Court of Appeals website.

In the traditional journalism world, precedents over the past 30 years have been set in everything from the Pentagon Papers and Watergate to Barry Bonds' dietary supplement regimen that possession of things such as classified information, trade secrets, or grand jury testimony is not illegal, even if revealing this information is.

Journalists routinely invoke their First Amendment rights to publish information, and in many states, have the additional protection of shield laws to protect them from revealing confidential sources, on the theory that lack of such protection siginificantly stifles a free flow of information and harms the public good.

However, prosecutors in criminal cases often continue to demand, especially in states lacking shield laws, that journalists reveal sources and unpublished information from their notes. Journalists occasionally go to jail defending their sources, a recent example being in the matter of leaked information about CIA operative Valerie Plame.

The Apple Asteroid issue has not yet heated up to the point of threatening anyone with jail, yet no one would underestimate the seriousness with which companies protect their trade secrets and the potential criminality involved in revealing them.

SYS-CON Media has been an aggressive promoter of blogging activity in recent months, with more than a dozen prominent bloggers routinely featured on the company's home page and thousands of other bloggers registered to blog within the company's various i-technology publications.

This policy has seemed to enable a very open and free flow of information and opinion about all aspects of the emerging Web 2.0 age, whether the bloggers are talking about overarching issues such as Open Source, trends such as SOA, languages such as Java and the Three Ps, tools and frameworks such as JSON and Struts, or even personal asides on the quality of specific trade shows or company announcements.

As West Coast Bureau Chief for SYS-CON, and a person who grew up in a newspaper family, I have been involved in numerous discussions with numerous bloggers, traditional journalists, and traditional journalists who are also bloggers. My personal view sides with the bloggers, that they do, in fact, have the same rights as any journalist.

Those who argue against this say that bloggers typically don't have the fact-checking discipline or multi-source tradition that is ingrained in traditional journalists, that they feel that they can say whatever they want to say without having to pass muster with the editors or specific policies found in traditional news organizations.

But we have been on a slippery slope since TV journalism added a glibness and sloppy aggressiveness to reporting that horrifies most print journalists. Looking back even further, one finds major news organizations such as, say, Time Inc. and the Los Angeles Times bringing brutally biased viewpoints to their so-called reporting during the first half of the 20th century. Looking back even further, one can hardly call the viciously political and personal scandal sheets common to the days of the Founding Fathers as anything resembling the "objective" journalism that people often call for today.

(I won't tackle the "objective" issue in this column, as this is a big issue that presupposes that human beings have some sort of widely shared, identical ability to interpret what they see and hear. )

So it seems to me that bloggers have the same rights as anyone to report on a story, using whatever source material they see fit. The readersphere will determine their place in the blogosphere. There are no educational or license requirements to become a journalist. In fact, traditional newsrooms of the immediate post-WWII era were routinely filled with high school graduates who could gather information, write about it clearly, and withstand the heat that inevitably came.

Today, bloggers are probably more educated and more opinionated than the traditional journalists of yore. They are probably less thorough and certainly less restricted than traditional journalists of today in what they can cover--remember, traditional journalists work for The Man, and usually have very specific story assignments and parameters within which they must work (or be out of a job and seek their next meal from, say, a blog).

But bloggers are as protected, in my opinion, as traditional journalists from corporations and governments that want to give them a second-class seat solely because they are bloggers.

The real fun will begin when bloggers are routinely hauled into court for libel because of something stupid or sloppy (or both), or perhaps plagiarized, that they may have unwittingly published, secure in the knowledge that as "real" journalists, they are now free to rant and rave as they see fit.

Because the flip side of this coin is that today's traditional journalism did not spring up overnight--the fact-checking disciplines and tacit limits on injecting too much opinion in a piece of reportage exist based on hard lessons learned. Although U.S. libel laws are less harsh than those found almost anywhere else in the world, it is a reality for traditional journalists that whenthey publish something, they had better get the story right and had better leave the personal observations about someone's mental health or family ancestry out of the story, or they may find themselves out of a job and into a court.

The Asteroid bloggers have apparently not bungled the job, and good for them. My guess is that not everyone in the blogosphere will be so careful.

Digg This!

More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.

Comments (4) View Comments

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.

Most Recent Comments
queZZtion 05/28/06 03:45:04 AM EDT

Is that other lawsuit, the one against ThinkSecret, still pending?

Juha Saarinen 05/28/06 03:38:16 AM EDT

This is of course great news for bloggers and online journalists in the USA. There is now a precedent set that says online journalism isn't "illegitimate news", which is very important indeed.

aNon 05/28/06 03:19:30 AM EDT

Blow to big business, boost to bloggers.

NoWay Jose 05/28/06 03:04:42 AM EDT

|| Journalists occasionally go to jail
|| defending their sources, a recent example
|| being in the matter of leaked information
|| about CIA operative Valerie Plame

So one day soon an ISP will go to jail to protect the integrity of a blogger. I DON'T THINK SO. The blogger = journalist analogy breaks down right there, sorry.

@ThingsExpo Stories
Big Data has been changing the world. IoT fuels the further transformation recently. How are Big Data and IoT related? In his session at @BigDataExpo, Tony Shan, a renowned visionary and thought leader, will explore the interplay of Big Data and IoT. He will anatomize Big Data and IoT separately in terms of what, which, why, where, when, who, how and how much. He will then analyze the relationship between IoT and Big Data, specifically the drilldown of how the 4Vs of Big Data (Volume, Variety,...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftNet Solutions will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. SoftNet Solutions specializes in Enterprise Solutions for Hadoop and Big Data. It offers customers the most open, robust, and value-conscious portfolio of solutions, services, and tools for the shortest route to success with Big Data. The unique differentiator is the ability to architect and ...
For basic one-to-one voice or video calling solutions, WebRTC has proven to be a very powerful technology. Although WebRTC’s core functionality is to provide secure, real-time p2p media streaming, leveraging native platform features and server-side components brings up new communication capabilities for web and native mobile applications, allowing for advanced multi-user use cases such as video broadcasting, conferencing, and media recording.
The Internet of Things will challenge the status quo of how IT and development organizations operate. Or will it? Certainly the fog layer of IoT requires special insights about data ontology, security and transactional integrity. But the developmental challenges are the same: People, Process and Platform and how we integrate our thinking to solve complicated problems. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Craig Sproule, CEO of Metavine, will demonstrate how to move beyond today's coding paradigm ...
DevOps is being widely accepted (if not fully adopted) as essential in enterprise IT. But as Enterprise DevOps gains maturity, expands scope, and increases velocity, the need for data-driven decisions across teams becomes more acute. DevOps teams in any modern business must wrangle the ‘digital exhaust’ from the delivery toolchain, "pervasive" and "cognitive" computing, APIs and services, mobile devices and applications, the Internet of Things, and now even blockchain. In this power panel at @...
A completely new computing platform is on the horizon. They’re called Microservers by some, ARM Servers by others, and sometimes even ARM-based Servers. No matter what you call them, Microservers will have a huge impact on the data center and on server computing in general. Although few people are familiar with Microservers today, their impact will be felt very soon. This is a new category of computing platform that is available today and is predicted to have triple-digit growth rates for some ...
Almost everyone sees the potential of Internet of Things but how can businesses truly unlock that potential. The key will be in the ability to discover business insight in the midst of an ocean of Big Data generated from billions of embedded devices via Systems of Discover. Businesses will also need to ensure that they can sustain that insight by leveraging the cloud for global reach, scale and elasticity.
In past @ThingsExpo presentations, Joseph di Paolantonio has explored how various Internet of Things (IoT) and data management and analytics (DMA) solution spaces will come together as sensor analytics ecosystems. This year, in his session at @ThingsExpo, Joseph di Paolantonio from DataArchon, will be adding the numerous Transportation areas, from autonomous vehicles to “Uber for containers.” While IoT data in any one area of Transportation will have a huge impact in that area, combining sensor...
SYS-CON Media announced today that @WebRTCSummit Blog, the largest WebRTC resource in the world, has been launched. @WebRTCSummit Blog offers top articles, news stories, and blog posts from the world's well-known experts and guarantees better exposure for its authors than any other publication. @WebRTCSummit Blog can be bookmarked ▸ Here @WebRTCSummit conference site can be bookmarked ▸ Here
Most people haven’t heard the word, “gamification,” even though they probably, and perhaps unwittingly, participate in it every day. Gamification is “the process of adding games or game-like elements to something (as a task) so as to encourage participation.” Further, gamification is about bringing game mechanics – rules, constructs, processes, and methods – into the real world in an effort to engage people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Endo, owner and engagement manager of Intrepid D...
SYS-CON Events announced today that LeaseWeb USA, a cloud Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. LeaseWeb is one of the world's largest hosting brands. The company helps customers define, develop and deploy IT infrastructure tailored to their exact business needs, by combining various kinds cloud solutions.
SYS-CON Events announced today that CDS Global Cloud, an Infrastructure as a Service provider, will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. CDS Global Cloud is an IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) provider specializing in solutions for e-commerce, internet gaming, online education and other internet applications. With a growing number of data centers and network points around the world, ...
Established in 1998, Calsoft is a leading software product engineering Services Company specializing in Storage, Networking, Virtualization and Cloud business verticals. Calsoft provides End-to-End Product Development, Quality Assurance Sustenance, Solution Engineering and Professional Services expertise to assist customers in achieving their product development and business goals. The company's deep domain knowledge of Storage, Virtualization, Networking and Cloud verticals helps in delivering ...
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, will discuss how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team a...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Transparent Cloud Computing (T-Cloud) Consortium will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. The Transparent Cloud Computing Consortium (T-Cloud Consortium) will conduct research activities into changes in the computing model as a result of collaboration between "device" and "cloud" and the creation of new value and markets through organic data proces...
In the next five to ten years, millions, if not billions of things will become smarter. This smartness goes beyond connected things in our homes like the fridge, thermostat and fancy lighting, and into heavily regulated industries including aerospace, pharmaceutical/medical devices and energy. “Smartness” will embed itself within individual products that are part of our daily lives. We will engage with smart products - learning from them, informing them, and communicating with them. Smart produc...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Enzu will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Enzu’s mission is to be the leading provider of enterprise cloud solutions worldwide. Enzu enables online businesses to use its IT infrastructure to their competitive advantage. By offering a suite of proven hosting and management services, Enzu wants companies to focus on the core of their online busine...
WebRTC adoption has generated a wave of creative uses of communications and collaboration through websites, sales apps, customer care and business applications. As WebRTC has become more mainstream it has evolved to use cases beyond the original peer-to-peer case, which has led to a repeating requirement for interoperability with existing infrastructures. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Graham Holt, Executive Vice President of Daitan Group, will cover implementation examples that have enabled ea...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Coalfire will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Coalfire is the trusted leader in cybersecurity risk management and compliance services. Coalfire integrates advisory and technical assessments and recommendations to the corporate directors, executives, boards, and IT organizations for global brands and organizations in the technology, cloud, health...
November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Penta Security is a leading vendor for data security solutions, including its encryption solution, D’Amo. By using FPE technology, D’Amo allows for the implementation of encryption technology to sensitive data fields without modification to schema in the database environment. With businesses having their data become increasingly more complicated in their mission-critical applications (such as ERP, CRM, HRM), continued ...