Saturday, February 28, 2009


The House in Congress would like to ban bloggers and other freelance journalists from protection to not reveal confidential news sources. The specific language is in HR 985 IH, The Free Flow of Information Act of 2009, is

"COVERED PERSON- The term `covered person' means a person who regularly gathers, prepares, collects, photographs, records, writes, edits, reports, or publishes news or information that concerns local, national, or international events or other matters of public interest for dissemination to the public for a substantial portion of the person's livelihood or for substantial financial gain and includes a supervisor, employer, parent, subsidiary, or affiliate of such covered person."

The gist of this legistlation is that if a blogger has a confidential news source that informs about a crime, then the blogger could be jailed if the news source is not given up to the police or other appurtenances of the law. The Senate bill, S 448 IS, does not define the term journalist so explicitly and merely states that a

"COVERED PERSON- The term ‘covered person’--

(A) means a person who is engaged in journalism;

(B) includes a supervisor, employer, parent company, subsidiary, or affiliate of a person described in subparagraph (A)".

There are obvious unconstitutional aspects of the House legistlation. The language in the House legistlation seems to make it fit for parents of adults to supervise their offsprings' blogging (?)and to define that a journalist is someone who works under the auspices of a corporation. The term is paternalistic in that it forces adult journalists to beg for their right of speech or to be chained to a company if they chose to pursue action against corruption. This proposed law stifles the press' free accumulation and dissemination of knowledge. President Obama, who publicly has championed a more accountable White House and administration, needs to put up or shut up on his shtick about government transparancy. If Obama gives his imprimatur on the House law, he has lost his game.

The legislation, besides the dictatorial machinations from the House, is a neon sign with bold caps that people in Congress DO NOT UNDERSTAND TECHNOLOGY or are afraid of what this new realm purposes. They are old nags, in the information marketplace, that should not be put out to pasture but should speed dial Do Not Pass Go on a one-way trip to the knackers.

Information is currency. I'm a blogger and have not derived much standard revenue from my blogs but I think of blogs as a form of currency in the information marketplace. What the House in Congress does not percieve or fears is that information is as valuable as cash on the Internet. This is the new exchange rate that those who are out of the technological loop do not comprehend. For example, I trade information with people in my "social" networking groups. Information, for a writer, is currency. A person cannot buy material objects with that form of exchange because money still has that necessary role but received knowledge can buy access to other people who will in turn use or circulate the "coinage" of data. These knowledge exchanges, and the attendant accountability that comes with the rise of bloggers and citizen journalists, is what frightens the House authors of this legistlation. The law should not go to President Obama's desk because it goes against the interest of government transparancy, free speech, and the continued livelihood of Internet journalism.

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