A group chaired by former judge Lord McCluskey backed the creation of a "commissioner" appointed by Scottish ministers to oversee a new regulatory regime for newspapers north of the Border.
Complying with the regulator would be compulsory, leading to fears that the recommendations amount to the 'licensing' of the press.
However, a senior SNP source distanced the Government from the plan: "Does the report necessarily have to be implemented? No."
McCluskey's panel was set up in December in the wake of Lord Leveson's report into the "culture, practices and ethics of the press".
Responding to reams of evidence about press malpractice, Leveson proposed the creation of a new independent regulator to replace the discredited Press Complaints Commission (PCC).
More controversially, he said the regulator should be monitored by a "recognition body", which would be underpinned by statute.
McCluskey and his colleagues were tasked by the First Minister to examine the Leveson report in a Scottish context, and to advise on "statutory underpinning".
In their report, published on Friday, the panel shocked opposition politicians by going significantly further than Leveson.
His team proposed that the PCC's successor should cover "relevant publishers" in Scotland, including "news-related" material on websites. He suggested publishers would not have the option to refuse to sign up.
Critics of the plan believe this could drag blogs and tweets into the regulatory regime.
By contrast, the Leveson report proposed an opt-in system that gave newspapers a financial incentive to sign up to the new regulator, but still provided the flexibility to say no.
McCluskey also recommended the creation of a separate Scottish "recognition commissioner", who would adjudicate on whether the regulatory body was doing its job properly. According to draft legislation drawn up by the panel, the commissioner would be appointed by Scottish ministers.
The recommendations were met with a hostile response and have prompted backpedalling from the Government. A senior SNP source told the Sunday Herald: "These are not the First Minister's proposals. These are Lord McCluskey's proposals. Does it necessarily have to be implemented? No."
The source added: "The McCluskey proposals are within the bounds of what could be done, but it doesn't mean that this is what will be done. It may well be that this won't happen."
The source's comments reflect Salmond's cautious approach to the report's findings. Despite the regulation of the press being devolved to Holyrood, the First Minister said the report showed how Leveson's proposals "could" be applied in Scotland, rather than "would" or "will".
He also linked implementation to "all parties" at Holyrood finding an "acceptable way forward".
Opposition parties have lined up to criticise the proposals. Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Tory leader, said: "This is a shameless attempt by the First Minister to shackle a free press at a time of the utmost political sensitivity.
"This is not statutory underpinning but statutory control which would give Scotland some of the most draconian press controls in the Western world."
Although both Labour and the LibDems in Westminster support the implementation of Leveson's recommendations, Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont was sceptical of the McCluskey recommendations.
She said: "We agreed with the First Minister that this group should look solely at the technicalities of implementing Leveson in Scots law. We did not agree to the Leveson recommendations being re-written or built upon. Leveson is about addressing the rights of victims and protecting the public. It should not be used by politicians as an attempt to control the press."
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie MSP said he favoured a UK solution to Leveson: "Overall I have always hoped for a UK-wide system to protect victims of abuses. That would accept the reality of how most modern newspapers expect to cover the whole of the UK.
"The proposal to compel newspapers to join a regulated body was unexpected. The potential consequences of that need to be properly looked at."
Patrick Harvie, the leader of the pro-independence Scottish Green party, also sounded a note of caution. "The McCluskey report appears to go much further than anyone had expected. [If] the will exists in Scotland to see the Leveson proposals implemented, it should not be beyond our ability to ensure that professional, commercial media organisations are properly regulated, but individual citizens are not caught up in the same system."
The prospect of a Scottish-only solution may hinge on the outcome of tomorrow's Westminster vote on the Leveson proposals. Talks broke down last week between Labour, the LibDems and the Conservatives on a UK-wide regime, with Prime Minister David Cameron maintaining his opposition to a new recognition body being backed up by legislation.
If tomorrow's vote leads to a cross-party solution, SNP sources say the prospect of a so-called "McLeveson" law will recede.
However, if the Westminster deadlock is not broken, the SNP Government may feel it has no option but to propose a watered-down version of the McCluskey plan.
Rennie said he hoped tomorrow's vote would bring a resolution: "I hope that all Scottish MPs will attend the vote to support statutory underpinning for the self-regulation elsewhere in the UK. That will increase the effectiveness of any system in Scotland. I recognise that this will be a hurdle for SNP MPs, but I hope they will see the sense in being able to underpin the protection of Scots across the UK."
On the forthcoming Commons vote on Leveson, SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson said: "We now have votes in the House of Commons – our advice is that some of the amendments to be debated could potentially impact on Scotland and we will look at them carefully over the weekend. In any event, we will seek assurances from the movers of amendments that Scots law and devolved powers will be taken into account and protected. In short we will continue to work consensually and constructively."
Cameron insists he is "delighted" with the "real progress" that has been made between the rival parties over their plans for press regulation ahead of the Commons showdown tomorrow.
Contextual targeting label: