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  1. says

    A hidden danger in the Rupert Murdoch scandals that are unfolding in Britain and in the United States is that authoritarians will be able to dupe well meaning politicians into legislating by panic. Additionally, politicians who simply want to see their name in print and their face on television will exploit the scandal to legislate in an over-reaching manner to ban practices that are both legitimate and necessary for journalists and private investigators under certain circumstances.

    Suppose you were a journalist or a private investigator in Nazi Germany. Would you break the law to expose mass murder? Of course, if you had any sense of decency and enough courage. That would be morally justified.

    On the other hand, do you hack into a dead girl’s voicemail or email just to get lurid information in order to sell newspapers?

    There are already plenty of laws on the books to prevent and punish those kinds of transgression, so beware of any legislation that might have implications and chilling effects on legitimate journalism and investigations. To see more of the intricacies involved in this debate, see:

    http://janbtucker.com/blog/2011/07/21/legislation-by-panic/

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14232086

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