Staying safe in the age of Assange

It takes a lot to upstage Nate Silver. But before the data-messiah spoke, a ballroom full of ONA13 attendees were briefed on the Free Flow of Information Act, a piece of legislation currently being considering by Congress. If passed, the act would expand legal protections afforded to journalists.

The bill is just one piece of the ongoing fight over digital privacy rights raging online and in the American government. The issue has loomed large over the course of the conference, from panels on “Protecting All Acts Of Journalism” to the opening night’s screening of “The Fifth Estate.”

Here’s what the experts on “The Legal Panel” had to say about journalists’ ability to protect their information.

Recent changes in FBI procedure requires that journalists are notified when under investigation., said Jonathan Stray of the Tow Center For Digital Journalism and Columbia University.  But the shield law being considered would go even further, offering more types or reporters protection than ever before. “It’s great,” Stray said. “You should read it.”

“I’m more optimistic now than in decades,” said David Ardia, Assistant Professor at the University of North Carolina School of Law. Ardia said that the shield law would undoubtably be modified, if it ever did become law. “But it seems a propitious time.”

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