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Senate amendment allowing lawmakers to scrub data online would chill reporting

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  1. First Amendment

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and 30 media organizations are urging the U.S. Senate to oppose a proposed amendment to the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act that would insulate members of Congress from news media scrutiny under the guise of security.

SA 218, introduced by Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), would make it possible for federal lawmakers to scrub information about them and their families from the internet, including home addresses and personal email addresses. The lawmakers argue that the bill is necessary to protect themselves from threats and harassment.

However, in a letter sent to the U.S. Senate on July 20, 2023, the media coalition argued that the amendment is likely to chill reporting. If passed, Reporters Committee attorneys argue in the letter, SA 218 “would pose a threat to lawful newsgathering and reporting about members of Congress and their families, and raise serious First Amendment concerns.”

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