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RCFP urges US Senate to pass PRESS Act

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  1. Newsgathering

Update: The letter described below was written in December 2022 and pertains to events surrounding the version of the PRESS Act introduced in the 117th Congress; that bill passed the House but, ultimately, stalled in the Senate. Lawmakers reintroduced the PRESS Act in the 118th Congress, and it passed the House in January 2024. The bill now goes to the Senate. The PRESS Act remains the strongest federal shield legislation proposed to date, and the Reporters Committee continues to support its passage into law.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and more than a dozen news organizations are urging the U.S. Senate to pass a federal shield bill that would provide essential protections for the public’s right to know.

In a letter sent to the Senate on Dec. 7, 2022, the Reporters Committee expressed support for the Protect Reporters from Excessive State Suppression Act, which passed the House of Representatives earlier this year.

The letter states that the PRESS Act would provide reporters a robust shield against the disclosure of newsgathering information, including information that could identify confidential sources. It would also bar the government from requesting similar data from cell phone providers, social media companies, and other third parties.

If passed, the PRESS Act would codify into federal law important protections for journalists recently established by the U.S. Department of Justice — protections the Reporters Committee and other news media leaders advocated for extensively.

As the letter states, “Only Congress can provide the press the durable protection of a federal statute.”

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