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By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2005-04-14 Print this article Print

Opsahl also noted that the effort by Apple to obtain the bloggers e-mail contents is also prohibited by the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, a federal law that prohibits revealing any electronic communication except for very specific instances that involve criminal investigations or national security, and only then with a search warrant. "The fact that there may be trade secrets here does not overcome the need to protect confidential sources," said Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press. Dalglish said that the committee is a nonprofit legal defense and advocacy organization for journalists working in the United States. A number of major media organizations, including the San Francisco Chronicle, the Los Angeles Times, the San Jose Mercury News and the Bee newspaper chain in California have joined in the committees brief.
Dalglish also suspects that this could be an attempt by Apple to intimidate the bloggers. "If it had been an online report from a widely recognized electronic publication they wouldnt have even tried," she said. "I dont think they would expect to go out and subpoena the L.A. Times phone records. The judge would have looked at it differently."
In its brief, the committee points out that there is extensive case law that disagrees with Kleinbergs decision, including a number of decisions by the U.S. Supreme court. The EFFs Opsahl said that his organization will take this case as far as it needs to, including to the Supreme Court. Currently the appeal is in the hands of the California Court of Appeal, which has yet to indicate when or if it will hear arguments or when it might make a decision. But whichever way it goes, the effects could be far reaching, especially in the way financial and technology news is covered. The Reporters Committee, for example, points out that some of the biggest stories of recent times, including the Enron scandal, could have been kept secret if the local judge is correct in his reading of the First Amendment. For insights on the Mac in the enterprise, check out Executive Editor Matthew Rothenbergs Weblog. "We think that this case not only affects these bloggers, but how we do our business as well," said Dave Satterfield, managing editor of the San Jose Mercury News. "The judge says we should be prohibited from publishing trade secrets. Thats a slippery slope. "It shouldnt be left up to companies to decide whats a trade secret," Satterfield said. He also said that he thinks the courts will come down in favor of the bloggers and the media. "Were hoping that truth and justice will prevail," he said. Everyone contacted by for this story expressed surprise that Apple of all companies would take this tack. Most recalled the now-classic commercial that Apple ran during the 1984 Super Bowl in which a young woman throws a hammer at a screen, destroying the image of a giant Orwellian figure, suggesting that now Apple is filling the role of Big Brother. Satterfield had another take. "To me its a little bit surprising that Apple is doing this," he said. "Didnt they run the ad encouraging people to rip music?" Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, reviews and analysis on Apple in the enterprise.

Wayne Rash Wayne Rash is a Senior Analyst for eWEEK Labs and runs the magazineÔÇÖs Washington Bureau. Prior to joining eWEEK as a Senior Writer on wireless technology, he was a Senior Contributing Editor and previously a Senior Analyst in the InfoWorld Test Center. He was also a reviewer for Federal Computer Week and Information Security Magazine. Previously, he ran the reviews and events departments at CMP's InternetWeek.

He is a retired naval officer, a former principal at American Management Systems and a long-time columnist for Byte Magazine. He is a regular contributor to Plane & Pilot Magazine and The Washington Post.

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