TECHNO-MAVENS have become fond of saying "information wants to be free." At which point we usually like to add up our cable, cell phone, BlackBerry, and Internet-access bills and figure out how we'll possibly pay for all this freedom.

What is certain is that information wants to flow freely - and that it must if we want to count on living in a true democracy. That's why we're relieved that the Senate Judiciary Committee last week passed the "Free Flow of Information Act of 2009," also known as the "media shield" law. This law, championed by Sens. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., and Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., allows journalists to protect their sources in federal court, though it outlines some exceptions, in cases involving terrorism. If reporters were compelled to name confidential sources - important stories like those exposing the Walter Reed Medical Center scandal, safety problems at nuclear-power plants or widespread corporate fraud - would either never appear or would have a harder time finding the light of day. Although the Senate is grappling with big issues like health care, it must acknowledge this cornerstone of democracy and pass this law quickly. I