The Law Commission is advising the Government how to update the law about classified state secrets—they want a new Espionage Act to increase the penalties, and allow journalists handling secret documents to be treated like spies.
Their proposals would stop investigative journalism and public-interest whistleblowing concerning the secret state. Imagine if not only Edward Snowden but also Guardian journalists Alan Rusbridger, Laura Poitras, Glenn Greenwald, Ewen MacAskill and James Ball were imprisoned for exposing government lawbreaking at GCHQ.
Would you risk 14 years in jail just for examining secret documents?
Whistleblowers and journalists wouldn't be able to use a public interest defence to protect themselves if they were prosecuted under the proposed Espionage Act. Instead, GCHQ and government staff would have to raise concerns internally. Journalists would have to turn down requests to investigate and report—or risk jail.
Journalists and whistleblowers wouldn't have to give the documents to foreign powers, cause harm or even publish the documents to be jailed for 14 years.