Imagine the United States without independent reporters. Where would the news come from? Press releases and corporate statements? Government-run media? And more importantly, what would we have missed over the last century? Watergate, COINTELPRO, the CIA’s manipulation of politics in Vietnam—none of these things would be common knowledge without courageous reporters, who were willing to publish stories on scandals that rocked the entire country.
A free press has always been an essential part of any democracy. That’s why repressive governments insist on state control over media. That’s why the very first addition to the Constitution, the First Amendment, protects freedom of speech.
And that’s why EFF is joining over 60 organizations supporting the Committee to Protect Journalists’ (CPJ) #RightToReport petition. The petition calls on the Obama Administration to:
1. Issue a presidential policy directive prohibiting the hacking and surveillance of journalists and media organizations
2. Limit aggressive prosecutions that ensnare journalists and intimidate whistleblowers
3. Prevent the harassment of journalists at the U.S. border
The petition has been signed by intrepid journalists such as Christiane Amanpour of CNN, Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept, and Spencer Ackerman of the Guardian. It has also garnered the support of advocacy organizations like the ACLU and EFF, media giants like Associated Press, as well as international signatories like the Bahrain Press Association. This diverse group agrees: it is urgent that journalists be able to do their jobs without fear of being targeted by the government.
Many of the individual and organizational signatories have experienced the very harassment the petition aims to address—especially those involved in national security reporting. Laura Poitras, documentary filmmaker and staff at The Intercept, has been stopped at the border nearly 40 times. Glenn Greenwald’s partner David Miranda was detained at the Heathrow airport for nine hours. Journalist James Risen is currently in legal proceedings for refusing to reveal a confidential source. And the NSA “hacked into Al Jazeera's internal communications system.” These are only a few of the stories about the kind of intimidation and harassment reporters face today.
CPJ’s petition makes it clear: “The free flow of information and the right of journalists to do their jobs in the digital age must be protected.” If you support the right of journalists to keep us all informed world citizens, sign the petition today. Your voice will be in good company.