WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT BOTS. How will the courts address free-expression rights for artificially intelligent communicators? This conversation is coming, and it may push the Supreme Court to do something it has avoided: define who is and is not a journalist.
For nearly half a century, the US legal system has lived a double life. On the one hand, the Supreme Court has held that journalists do not have greater or lesser rights than other citizens (see Branzburg v. Hayes). On the other, the lower courts have generally ignored or let stand numerous laws or privileges that provide journalists special protections. These include the qualified First Amendment–based reporter’s privilege in some federal jurisdictions and fee waivers in FOI statutes.