The Protect Reporters from Exploitive State Spying (PRESS) Act is the long overdue federal shield law that would, at last, provide strong protections to journalists against government surveillance and forced disclosure of their confidential sources. EFF strongly supports this bill, and hopes to see it become law.
Several Senators and Representatives, including Senator Ron Wyden, Sen. Mike Lee, Sen. Richard Durbin, Rep. Jamie Raskin and Rep. Kevin Kiley, re-introduced the bipartisan, bicameral legislation in June.
Journalists shouldn’t be forced to choose between protecting their confidential sources or going to prison. Law enforcement agencies under both Democratic and Republican administrations have secretly subpoenaed emails and phone records from reporters in order to determine their sources. The PRESS Act protects newsgathering and the free flow of information to the American people, since journalists often rely on confidential sources — who may fear being jailed, fired, or retaliated against for speaking to the press. This law is a necessary protection for journalists to report vital news stories in the national interest.
The PRESS Act is the strongest federal shield bill for journalists we've ever seen. Its definition of journalist is appropriately broad, its exceptions are narrow and targeted, and it restricts subpoenas directed not only to journalists but to their phone and email providers.
The PRESS Act would protect journalists who may be forced to choose between jail time and crippling fines or sharing names of confidential sources or other information about their newsgathering. It would stop the federal government from spying on journalists through their phones, email providers, and other online services. This anti-surveillance mandate is critical, because reporters often use email, cloud, and messaging services, as well as social media, to communicate with sources or store information.
The PRESS Act covers both professional and citizen journalists. It applies regardless of political leanings of a news outlet or reporter. It would protect a blogger or a Pulitzer Prize winner, a Fox News reporter or someone working at Media Matters for America. It would end the all-too-common practice of both Democratic and Republican administrations spying on journalists whose reporting angers them.
We can’t leave reporters’ ability to protect their sources up to the whims of a future President or Attorney General. This necessary law protects all the journalists and confidential sources that Americans rely on to expose wrongdoing by government, private companies, and powerful individuals. The PRESS Act is the strongest shield law Congress has ever proposed. Now, Congress should pass it.