Vadim Lavrusik writes that a recent court order targeting Twitter users connected to the WikiLeaks website raises concerns for reporter-source confidentiality.
Twitter succeeded in having the order from the Department of Justice unsealed, allowing the company to notify targeted account owners. But it is possible that other Web services received similar court orders and did not fight to make them public.
Lavrusik argues that as reporters increasingly use social media channels to contact sources, the prospect of having those conversations revealed is troubling. He calls for the proposed Free Flow of Information Act to include correspondence conducted on social media sites:
“Ultimately, the privilege of shield laws should also extend to the social platforms hosting the information that is shared between whistle-blowers and journalists. And until there is a federal shield law for reporters, protection for such newsgathering will be nonexistent. This is the only way to fix the broken system.”