Free flow of information. As a professional communicator I believe in it. We need to have this free flow of information to have an informed and free society. Part of that is protections for journalists (both online and off) and a neutral Internet. I want to share with you about net neutrality and Free Flow of Information Act. I encourage you to get involved with the discussion.
A lot has been said about this topic. And frankly it is all very confusing. What does it mean for you? The Internet’s guiding principle is net neutrality which mean it preserves our right to communicate freely online. Specifically it means that Internet service providers should not discriminate or block against any applications or content that flow over those networks. If Net Neutrality goes away it means ISPs could restrict that flow and use a pay to play for access to services such as NetFlix or YouTube. It could limit small businesses dependent on Internet to conduct their business. Here is a great article on Net Neutrality. Or watch this video:
I encourage you to visit the FCC and make comment on this as well as contact your congressional delegation.
Free Flow of Information Act
Journalist now more than ever need a shield law to protect them and their sources. The subject matter is the push for adoption of a federal shield law. I’m a member of the National Federation of Presswomen, I received this First Amendment Alert and they explain Free Flow of Information Act (FFIA), S 987, better than I can:
“With the FFIA, the federal government would join 48 states and the District of Columbia in preventing lawyers from hauling communicators into a legal process to respond to questions on anything from high profile stories to routine civil lawsuits. Subpoenas of journalists are becoming more frequent. Today’s federal law provides little protection when a subpoena arrives in a federal matter. Journalists are put in harm’s way when what the country really needs is freedom for them to do their jobs.
New York Times reporter James Risen may be headed to jail because there is no law. He has declined to reveal his confidential source for a book chapter about how the CIA may have given the Iranians valuable nuclear technology in a botched attempt to disrupt their nuclear program.
But every day communicators face similar exposure just because they gather information for a living. The new law would protect the news gathering process as well as confidential sources. And it provides essential balance between the public’s right to know and important national security and law enforcement needs. The FFIA is no free pass for journalists.
In today’s digital world, the FFIA takes into account the online journalist as well as the traditional newspaper, magazine, newsletter or broadcast journalist. But it differentiates professional communicators from hobbyists and random bloggers. The person invoking the privilege must have had the primary intent to gather news or information and disseminate it to the public. The person must also have (or had when engaging with the confidential source) some current relationship with a news entity, or have a track record of doing freelance journalism, regardless of the medium of distribution; the definition is meant to be technology-neutral. Importantly, the bill includes a safety valve, giving federal judges the discretion to protect the source of someone who does not fit precisely into the definition of “covered journalist” if the judge finds that doing so would be in the interest of justice.“
To find contact information for your senator to urge them to bring this to the Senate floor and vote yes, then visit www.senate.gov.
What happens with the above does have an impact on us a professional communicators and business owners. Learn more and I encourage you to get active on the topics making your voice heard.
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