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RCFP urges US Senate to advance, pass PRESS Act

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  1. Newsgathering
The federal shield bill would provide essential protections for the public’s right to know.
The U.S. Capitol (Photo by Kevin Burkett, via Flickr)
The U.S. Capitol (Photo by Kevin Burkett, via Flickr)

For the second time in the last two years, the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press is urging the U.S. Senate to advance and pass a bill that would establish robust federal protections for the newsgathering rights of journalists.

In a letter sent to the Senate on June 7, the Reporters Committee and 53 news media organizations expressed support for the Protect Reporters from Exploitative State Spying Act, or PRESS Act, which is currently pending in the Senate Judiciary Committee. 

The PRESS Act would bar the federal government from using subpoenas, search warrants, or other compulsory actions against journalists to force the disclosure of information identifying confidential sources as well as other newsgathering records, except in very limited circumstances. The bipartisan legislation, which unanimously passed the U.S. House of Representatives in January, also broadly limits the government’s ability to use the same actions against third parties, including email providers and search engines, to seize journalists’ data, with narrow exceptions. 

“The PRESS Act is a reasonable, common-sense measure to preserve the free flow of information to the public, as evidenced by its broad bipartisan support and the fact that 49 states and the District of Columbia have similar protections,” the letter states. “All reflect the reality that the press cannot fulfill its constitutionally recognized watchdog role without some safeguard for confidential source identities and sensitive newsgathering material.”

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