Apple tells its users "check the Constitution at the Door"
Appleâ€™s attorney Riley countered by saying that free speech protection applied only to legitimate members of the press and not to website publishers. Freedom of the press was for the press, meaning the traditional media, he said.
Now if this guy really said this, he isn’t much of a lawyer. Free speech protection applies to everybody, not just members of the press. The press is protected by freedom of the press. Freedom of speech is a different creature. It applies to Joe Blow standing on the street corner yelling, “No War for Oil” and it applies to me standing across the street yelling “You Suck, Joe.” I’m not one of these people who thinks it’s all that important to extend free press protections to everyone with a website. I’m perfectly satisfied as a citizen with the right of free speech and don’t feel the need to be considered a ‘journalist.’ In fact, given the company, I’d prefer not to be.
I’m sympathetic to Apple’s case because journalists’ sources are protected by Shield Laws not the First Amendment and the Shield Laws may have standards for who qualifies as a journalist. If the Shield Laws consider anybody who prints a 50 copy newsletter a ‘journalist’ then they should probably be redrawn to also protect all online publishing that has similar readership, but this still isn’t a Constitutional case, it’s a case about how the Shield Law applies. Bringing the Constitution into it, then saying that the Constitution doesn’t apply online (especially when you are working for a computer company) and then adding in the two cents that only journalists are entitled to freedom of speech (not press, speech) proves both a basic ignorance of the law and a complete lack of understanding of Apple’s customer relations objectives.