Welcome!

Web 2.0 Authors: ITinvolve Blog, Trevor Parsons, Pat Romanski, Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: Web 2.0

Web 2.0: 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
IoT is still a vague buzzword for many people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Mike Kavis, Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Partners, discussed the business value of IoT that goes far beyond the general public's perception that IoT is all about wearables and home consumer services. He also discussed how IoT is perceived by investors and how venture capitalist access this space. Other topics discussed were barriers to success, what is new, what is old, and what the future may hold. Mike Kavis is Vice President & Principal Cloud Architect at Cloud Technology Pa...
The Internet of Things (IoT) is rapidly in the process of breaking from its heretofore relatively obscure enterprise applications (such as plant floor control and supply chain management) and going mainstream into the consumer space. More and more creative folks are interconnecting everyday products such as household items, mobile devices, appliances and cars, and unleashing new and imaginative scenarios. We are seeing a lot of excitement around applications in home automation, personal fitness, and in-car entertainment and this excitement will bleed into other areas. On the commercial side, m...
Dale Kim is the Director of Industry Solutions at MapR. His background includes a variety of technical and management roles at information technology companies. While his experience includes work with relational databases, much of his career pertains to non-relational data in the areas of search, content management, and NoSQL, and includes senior roles in technical marketing, sales engineering, and support engineering. Dale holds an MBA from Santa Clara University, and a BA in Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley.
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.
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
"People are a lot more knowledgeable about APIs now. There are two types of people who work with APIs - IT people who want to use APIs for something internal and the product managers who want to do something outside APIs for people to connect to them," explained Roberto Medrano, Executive Vice President at SOA Software, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at Cloud Expo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Performance is the intersection of power, agility, control, and choice. If you value performance, and more specifically consistent performance, you need to look beyond simple virtualized compute. Many factors need to be considered to create a truly performant environment. In his General Session at 15th Cloud Expo, Harold Hannon, Sr. Software Architect at SoftLayer, discussed how to take advantage of a multitude of compute options and platform features to make cloud the cornerstone of your online presence.
SYS-CON Media announced that Splunk, a provider of the leading software platform for real-time Operational Intelligence, has launched an ad campaign on Big Data Journal. Splunk software and cloud services enable organizations to search, monitor, analyze and visualize machine-generated big data coming from websites, applications, servers, networks, sensors and mobile devices. The ads focus on delivering ROI - how improved uptime delivered $6M in annual ROI, improving customer operations by mining large volumes of unstructured data, and how data tracking delivers uptime when it matters most.
The Internet of Things will greatly expand the opportunities for data collection and new business models driven off of that data. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Esmeralda Swartz, CMO of MetraTech, discussed how for this to be effective you not only need to have infrastructure and operational models capable of utilizing this new phenomenon, but increasingly service providers will need to convince a skeptical public to participate. Get ready to show them the money!
Cultural, regulatory, environmental, political and economic (CREPE) conditions over the past decade are creating cross-industry solution spaces that require processes and technologies from both the Internet of Things (IoT), and Data Management and Analytics (DMA). These solution spaces are evolving into Sensor Analytics Ecosystems (SAE) that represent significant new opportunities for organizations of all types. Public Utilities throughout the world, providing electricity, natural gas and water, are pursuing SmartGrid initiatives that represent one of the more mature examples of SAE. We have s...
Since 2008 and for the first time in history, more than half of humans live in urban areas, urging cities to become “smart.” Today, cities can leverage the wide availability of smartphones combined with new technologies such as Beacons or NFC to connect their urban furniture and environment to create citizen-first services that improve transportation, way-finding and information delivery. In her session at @ThingsExpo, Laetitia Gazel-Anthoine, CEO of Connecthings, will focus on successful use cases.
DevOps Summit 2015 New York, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that it is now accepting Keynote Proposals. The widespread success of cloud computing is driving the DevOps revolution in enterprise IT. Now as never before, development teams must communicate and collaborate in a dynamic, 24/7/365 environment. There is no time to wait for long development cycles that produce software that is obsolete at launch. DevOps may be disruptive, but it is essential.
“With easy-to-use SDKs for Atmel’s platforms, IoT developers can now reap the benefits of realtime communication, and bypass the security pitfalls and configuration complexities that put IoT deployments at risk,” said Todd Greene, founder & CEO of PubNub. PubNub will team with Atmel at CES 2015 to launch full SDK support for Atmel’s MCU, MPU, and Wireless SoC platforms. Atmel developers now have access to PubNub’s secure Publish/Subscribe messaging with guaranteed ¼ second latencies across PubNub’s 14 global points-of-presence. PubNub delivers secure communication through firewalls, proxy ser...
The industrial software market has treated data with the mentality of “collect everything now, worry about how to use it later.” We now find ourselves buried in data, with the pervasive connectivity of the (Industrial) Internet of Things only piling on more numbers. There’s too much data and not enough information. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Bob Gates, Global Marketing Director, GE’s Intelligent Platforms business, to discuss how realizing the power of IoT, software developers are now focused on understanding how industrial data can create intelligence for industrial operations. Imagine ...
The true value of the Internet of Things (IoT) lies not just in the data, but through the services that protect the data, perform the analysis and present findings in a usable way. With many IoT elements rooted in traditional IT components, Big Data and IoT isn’t just a play for enterprise. In fact, the IoT presents SMBs with the prospect of launching entirely new activities and exploring innovative areas. CompTIA research identifies several areas where IoT is expected to have the greatest impact.
The 3rd International Internet of @ThingsExpo, co-located with the 16th International Cloud Expo - to be held June 9-11, 2015, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY - announces that its Call for Papers is now open. The Internet of Things (IoT) is the biggest idea since the creation of the Worldwide Web more than 20 years ago.
The Internet of Things promises to transform businesses (and lives), but navigating the business and technical path to success can be difficult to understand. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Sean Lorenz, Technical Product Manager for Xively at LogMeIn, demonstrated how to approach creating broadly successful connected customer solutions using real world business transformation studies including New England BioLabs and more.
Connected devices and the Internet of Things are getting significant momentum in 2014. In his session at Internet of @ThingsExpo, Jim Hunter, Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems, examined three key elements that together will drive mass adoption of the IoT before the end of 2015. The first element is the recent advent of robust open source protocols (like AllJoyn and WebRTC) that facilitate M2M communication. The second is broad availability of flexible, cost-effective storage designed to handle the massive surge in back-end data in a world where timely analytics is e...
"There is a natural synchronization between the business models, the IoT is there to support ,” explained Brendan O'Brien, Co-founder and Chief Architect of Aria Systems, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at the 15th International Cloud Expo®, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The Internet of Things will put IT to its ultimate test by creating infinite new opportunities to digitize products and services, generate and analyze new data to improve customer satisfaction, and discover new ways to gain a competitive advantage across nearly every industry. In order to help corporate business units to capitalize on the rapidly evolving IoT opportunities, IT must stand up to a new set of challenges. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Jeff Kaplan, Managing Director of THINKstrategies, will examine why IT must finally fulfill its role in support of its SBUs or face a new round of...