Confidentiality, Bloggers, and the TSA

The Tyranny Of Government And Our Duty Of Confidentiality As Bloggers. TechCrunch‘s Michael Arrington discusses two bloggers who were recently served with subpoenas from the TSA, a government agency. One blogger refused to reveal his sources. The other, who was served as he was babysitting for his children, gave his computer over to the TSA. Arrington asserts that:

“As bloggers, we have a duty of confidentiality to our sources. And that means keeping information confidential even if threatened with the tyranny of government. And even if the legislatures and courts haven’t decided that as bloggers we have real rights protecting us from that tyranny.”

I agree with Arrington. The First Amendment (see it below) protects freedom of the press without any caveat about bloggers. The founders wisely did not define “press” so that it meant employees of corporate media companies, for example. However, I’ve sat across the table from a reporter who was facing jail, and thinking hard about what a jail term means when you have a 3 year old at home and a spouse to support. The theoretic collides on such occasions with the practical and that is how people are tested. It isn’t easy.

That said, bloggers who aren’t writing fiction, and are exercising their right to free speech and serving as the press, need to buck up and consider the risks that go with any expression of ideas. Liberty isn’t license, and blogging isn’t just blathering unless that is how you treat it.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

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