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France: New Law on Protection of Journalistic Sources

(Jan. 25, 2010) The French Parliament adopted Law 2010-1 of January 4, 2010, on the Protection of Journalistic Sources. (Loi 2010-1 du 4 janvier 2010 relative à la protection du secret des sources des journalistes, legifrance, (File: les autres textes législatifs et réglementaires) (last visited Jan. 19, 2010).) The Law allows journalists to keep their sources secret unless “a preponderant public interest need” can be shown. It further provides that in a criminal case, the right to keep sources secret can only exceptionally be infringed upon if the nature and particularly gravity of the offense justify it. (Id.).

The Law reinforces the protection concerning searches of the journalist's home, office, or car, where the searches are related to his or her professional activities. It requires the presence of a magistrate during the searches. This magistrate must insure that the investigative measures respect the free exercise of the profession of a journalist and are not disproportionate to the nature and gravity of the offense investigated and to the protection that is due to the secrecy of the journalist sources. Finally, these measures must not result in an obstacle or an unjustified delay in the diffusion of the information. (Id.).