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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: "Secret des affaires": informer n’est pas un délit

by Tribune collective

“Business Secrets” : to inform is not a crime

Translated Monday 9 March 2015, by Adrian Jordan

There is a wolf in the Macron law. The law project currently being discussed by the French National Assembly contains an amendment, slyly slipped into the text which threatens to hinder the work of investigative journalists and, in consequence, information released to the public

Under the guise of fighting industrial espionage, the legislator creates a kind of new arm of massive dissuasion against journalism, a “business secret” the definition of which authorises, no more and no less, unprecedented censorship in France.

According to the text, “business secret” covers “information out of the public domain, being the subject of reasonable methods of protection” and which has “an economic value”. Our job consists of revealing information of public interest; now it will be impossible to inform you of whole sections of the economic, social and political life of the country.

The text, which was prepared without any consultation, leaves the interpretation open to individual companies as to what now constitutes a “business secret”. In other words, under the Macron law, you would never have heard of the Mediator scandal or the one concerning asbestos, the Luxleaks affair, UBS, HSBC tax evasion, the secret plans of the tobacco giants, also the Elf, Karachi, Tapie-Crédit Lyonnais cases, or the Amésys affair - namely, the French company which helped a dictatorship spy own its own people. And so on... The simple revelation of a draft social plan, or such, would also fall under the scope of the Macron law.

With this text, a judge dealing with business will be called upon to become the nation’s editor-in-chief who decides the value of information. A special provision even prescribes that the judiciary may prevent the publication or diffusion of an inquiry. In the case where a journalist violates this “business secret”, they risk 3 years imprisonment and a 375,000 euro fine. The stakes are doubled in the cases affecting “the sovereignty, the security or the economic interests of France”. A triple concept sufficiently vague so as to authorise all kinds of liberty-killing measures.

Same rate for whistle-blowers, the famous sources without whom certain scandals would never have emerged. This text is unacceptable being put to the vote when a law providing for the reinforcement of the protection of journalist’s sources was quietly buried last summer.

We journalists, refuse to content ourselves with copying press communiques so that you, the public, remain informed. As George Orwell said: “Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed. Everything else is public relations.” That is why we demand, pure and simple, the withdrawal of this bill.

First signatories: Patrick Apel-Muller (directeur de la rédaction de l’Humanité), Claude Baudry (Société des personnels de l’Humanité), Fabrice Arfi (Mediapart) Benoît Collombat (France Inter) Elise Lucet (France 2) Manuel Tissier (SDJ France 2) Joel Bruandet (Complément d’Enquête, France 2), Marie de la Chaume (Pièces à Conviction, France 3) Steeve Baumann (Spécial Investigation, Canal+) Carole Ferry (Europe 1) François-Xavier Ménage (M6) François Pitrel (SDJ BFM), Luc Hermann, Paul Moreira, Laurent Richard, Edouard Perrin, Martin Boudot, Jean-Baptiste Renaud, Sylvain Louvet, Jules Giraudat, Sophie Le Gall (Premières Lignes) Jean-Pierre Canet (KM Prod) Alexis Marant ( SDJ Capa Presse) Magali Serre (indépendante) Pascal Henry (indépendant), Denis Boutelier ( TAC Presse ).

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