Federal Communications Law Journal

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Citation

63 Federal Communications Law Journal 667 (2011)


This Article addresses whether WikiLeaks could claim a federal reporter's privilege if the U.S. government or a U.S. entity tried to compel one of the site's staff members to disclose the source(s) of any documents it has released. After exploring the origins of the First Amendment-based privilege, the Author argues that WikiLeaks would not be able to claim it. First, the website does not engage in investigative reporting. Second, it has not taken steps consistently to minimize harm. He also discusses congressional attempts to pass a federal shield law, paying special attention to H.R. 985 and S. 448, the two most recent shield bills. The Author argues that WikiLeaks was an ill fit for their definitions of "covered person." For these reasons, the Author concludes that WikiLeaks would not qualify to claim a federal reporter's privilege in any form.