Today, Representative Jamie Raskin (D-MD) introduced the Protect Reporters from Exploitative State Spying (PRESS) Act in the House, which establishes reasonable ground rules for when the government can obtain confidential source information from the media and their third-party service providers. Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced a similar bill in the Senate on Monday.
Groundbreaking investigative stories of government corruption and other wrongdoings would remain unknown – both to the public and to Congress – without information gathered from confidential sources by investigative journalists. Actions by the government to learn journalists’ confidential sources undermine the ability of the press, as outlined in the First Amendment, to provide important information to the public about such transgressions.
The legislation introduced now in both the House and Senate would prevent government overreach in obtaining confidential information that would expose anonymous sources and jeopardize the public’s right to know, while at the same time enabling law enforcement officials to get the information they need to investigate and prosecute crimes to keep the nation secure.
Alliance President and CEO, David Chavern, stated, “We must do more to protect journalists from being forced to reveal confidential sources used in investigative reporting, which are often crucial to helping to shed light on important public matters critical to preserving our democracy. We are grateful to Representative Raskin for his leadership in introducing this legislation, as well as Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler for calling attention to the problem of prosecutorial overreach when it comes to seeking source information from reporters.”
Members of the News Media Alliance staff have contributed to this post.