Wednesday, July 15, 2009

What would you do if you witnessed a crime?

Confidential Twitter documents

If someone gets hold of private documents and sends them to you, and you’re an online publisher, what do you do?

Say you’re not interested and tell them to phk off? Publish and be damned, if not possibly sued, whatever the content? Publish bits and pieces according to your lights and sensitivities?

TechCrunch seems to have chosen the latter course.

If someone shows you stolen material the proper thing to do is return the stolen items, and report the incident to the police. There seems to be a lot of confusion about this amongst journalists, but it is really very simple. A citizen should report criminal activity to the police.

If the stolen items are themselves evidence of criminal conduct, then the case is different. But if the material is just the information connected to a normal business, then its theft is a criminal matter.

I will be writing more about this when I have a chance, but once again the news business seems to be losing their moral compass and taking the rest of us with them.

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