Panel Discussion: WikiLeaks, the Espionage Act and the First Amendment

 

In the wake of WikiLeaks’ release of thousands of the United States’ secret documents, legislation has been submitted to broaden the 1917 Espionage Act to criminalize the possession or dissemination of leaked classified information. A special panel of legal and journalism experts will gather at 7 p.m. Monday, April 4 to discuss the ramifications of such a change. Free and open to the public, the panel discussion will take place in the College of Communication and Information Auditorium (Room 321).

The panel includes:

  • Otis H. Stephens Jr., Ph.D., J.D., Alumni Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science and resident scholar at the UT College of Law and a renowned constitutional law scholar.
  • Glenn Harlan Reynolds, J.D., Beauchamp Brogan Distinguished Professor of Law at UT. Professor Reynolds operates the path-breaking Instapundit blog and is noted for his teaching in constitutional law, Internet law, and science and technology.
  • Benjamin J. Bates, Ph.D. professor of Journalism & Electronic Media and adjunct professor of information sciences at UT. Bates specializes in media economics and emerging media.
  • Maria Fontenot, Ph.D., lecturer in the UT School of Journalism & Electronic Media. Fontenot specializes in media and society issues and media law.
  • Dwight L. Teeter, Jr., moderator, School of Journalism & Electronic Media, specializes in media law and history.

Had such a statute been in place in 1971, it could have halted publication of the “Pentagon Papers” Daniel Ellsberg leaked to The New York Times. But in the Age of the Internet, can expanding a criminal statute slow the floods of leaked documents? A related question: How much power should the President and the Department of Homeland Security have over the Internet and social media? Could or should there be an “off-switch” if a cyber-crisis is declared? Our panel will discuss these tensions and dilemmas involving freedom and security in the Internet Age, and more.

This event is co-sponsored by the UT College of Law and the UT student chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. It is part of a First Amendment celebration supported by the Liberty Tree Initiative of the McCormick Foundation for the School of Journalism & Electronic Media.

 

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