The bill creates a "qualified" shield, meaning that courts still can require disclosure of a source in certain circumstances. A court could compel disclosure in either a criminal or a civil case if it were shown by clear and convincing evidence that:
- The information or the identity of the source of the information is critical or necessary to the investigation or prosecution of a crime or to a criminal defense, or to the maintenance of a party's claim, defense or proof of a material issue.
- The information or the identity of the source of the information cannot be obtained from any alternative source.
- There is an overriding public interest in the disclosure.
- Any newspaper, magazine or other periodical, book publisher, news agency, wire service, radio or television station or network, cable or satellite or other transmission system or carrier, or channel or programming service for such station, network, system or carrier, or audio or audiovisual production company that disseminates information to the public, whether by print, broadcast, photographic, mechanical, electronic or any other means or medium.
- Any person who is or has been an employee, agent or independent contractor of any such entity and is or has been engaged in gathering, preparing or disseminating information to the public for such entity, or any other person supervising or assisting such person with gathering, preparing or disseminating information.
- Any parent, subsidiary, division or affiliate of any such persons or entities.
Full information about the bill and its legislative history is available here.