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FREE PRESS
-- A federal shield bill that would give reporters a qualified privilege
to refuse to identify their confidential sources was passed by the U.S. House of
Representatives tonight, reports Larry Margasak for the Associated Press.

The House bill allows a court to compel a journalist to reveal confidential sources in these circumstances:

  • To
    prevent an act of terrorism against the United States or its allies,
    prevent significant harm to national security or to identify a
    perpetrator of a terrorist act.
  • To stop an imminent death or significant bodily harm.
  • To
    identify someone who disclosed a trade secret, health information on
    individuals, or financial information that is confidential under
    federal laws.
  • To identify, in a criminal investigation, someone
    who disclosed properly classified information that caused or will cause
    significant harm to national security.

Even if those requirements
are met, the party seeking information must establish that the public
interest in compelling disclosure outweighs the public interest in
gathering or disseminating information.