In a recent directive to its employees, the National Security Agency explains that "the media," in its opinion, includes bloggers.
The document defines "media" as "any print, electronic, or broadcast outlet (including blogs) where information is made available to the general public."
The NSA directive orders the secretive agency's 45,000 employees to report "unauthorized media disclosures" of classified information. That is, leaks.
It raises an interesting question: do bloggers enjoy the reporter's privilege of protecting their sources in court?
In a landmark case from 2004, Apple computer argued that bloggers aren't journalists because they aren't professional, and therefore aren't protected by "shield laws." Such statutes keep law enforcement from forcing reporters to reveal confidential sources. The company lost the original ruling -- and lost on appeal this May.
NSA's point of view appears to bolster bloggers' standing as journalists. If anybody who can disseminate information -- that is, receive and broadcast a leak -- is a member of the media, then that means us bloggers are in the club. "I thnk that's becoming increasingly obvious," Kurt Opsahl, a blogging-rights expert and counsel to the California-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, told me. "There's no principled way to distinguish between the various media."
(Courtesy dickarmitage.blogspot.com. No, just kidding. via Secrecy News)
Update: An earlier version of this post cited an article on the case of Josh Wolf, a California blogger currently in prison for refusing to turn over videotapes to a federal grand jury. However, at the federal level, California's shield law did not apply; federal prosecutors did not take a stance on Wolf's reporter status. Jurt Opsahl, a blogging-rights expert and counsel at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told me he is not aware of a case in which the federal government has asserted bloggers are not journalists.