Brazilian court ruling recognizes press's right to release confidential information

According to a court in São Paulo, the Brazilian press has the right to release all material leaked by government agents and confidentiality only applies to the police or judicial authorities who are responsible for it, reported the Counsel's website on Wednesday, Aug. 15.

The court's decision assessed attorney Suzana Volpini's actions as morally damaging to TV Globo for a report that involved investigative recordings about Volpini's relationship with a criminal gang.

Judge Luiz Ambra said the obligation to keep the recording's confidentiality is the police or judicial authority's responsibility, and it is the journalist's responsibility to stick to the veracity of the source, according to the Migalhas website.

The judge also said that journalism may be critical and not only informative, according to the Right to Public Information Access Forum.

The court's decision goes against recent attempts to criminalize journalists for releasing confidential information, such as the case of Bill 1947/07, known as the Muzzle Law. In June 2011, a journalist was indicted for releasing confidential information.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.