Apple's attempt to silence some Mac rumour sites continues to ruffle feathers with a coalition of news publishers and two Internet industry trade associations filing briefs protesting the action.

Apple has initiated action to demand that journalists from Apple Insider, Think Secret and PowerPage hand over information about their sources. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is fighting the action.

The news publishers who filed arguments supporting the defendants argued that the trial court "incorrectly allowed trade secret law to trump First Amendment rights, and that Apple has failed to exhaust all other alternative sources for the information it seeks before going after journalists' sources, as required by the reporter's privilege under the First Amendment," the EFF said.

Major media moves to free press support

Protesting news organisations included: Grant Penrod of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press; Associated Press; the California First Amendment Coalition; the California Newspaper Publishers Association; Copley Press; Freedom Communications; Hearst; the LA Times; McClatchy Company; San Jose Mercury News; Society of Professional Journalists; Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press; and the Student Press Law Center.

eMail privacy threatened

The US Internet Industry Association and the NetCoalition also filed briefs supporting the defendants. They maintain that journalist's email messages are protected under the federal Stored Communications Act. They also maintain that if the court's decision (to allow Apple access to email records belonging to the defendants) is maintained it will, "place an undue burden on service providers" and will "severely compromise email users' privacy".

"The coalition of newspapers and media organizations recognized that the trial court's disregard for the First Amendment would broadly chill reporting by all journalists, regardless of medium," said EFF staff attorney Kurt Opsahl.