Does it seem odd to ask a reporter to sign a non-disclosure agreement?
Well, that’s what Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna’s office was asking of reporters going into a news conference later this morning at Facebook offices in downtown Seattle.
AG’s spokesman Dan Sytman quickly withdrew the request — which he said was made at the behest of Facebook — but not before at least two news organizations, The Seattle Times and The Associated Press, said they wouldn’t sign.
The agreement, which requires a promise not to disclose any “non-public” Facebook information to anyone, under threat of litigation, was forwarded to reporters as an attachment to an email sent by Sytman on his state email account.
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He said it seemed to deal with issues of intellectual property and wouldn’t be of interest to journalists.
Sytman later said that a reporter from The Times would not have to sign.
“We won’t boot you,” he wrote. Later, Sytman wrote to say the reporter was “exempt” from signing.
“It’s a point well taken,” Sytmans said in a telephone interview. “Maybe we should have thought through it a little more. But when we heard complaints, we took immediate action.”
The news conference involves a purported “one-two” legal punch against a company that has been targeting Facebook customers with virus-infected “Like” messages.