WASHINGTON – Yesterday, the House of Representatives voted to pass HR 4250, the Protect Reporters from Exploitative State Spying Act (PRESS Act), which prevents the government from compelling journalists to reveal their sources and work product. The act also bars the government from spying on journalists’ phone records and search histories through third parties, like internet service providers, as a work-around.
The American Civil Liberties Union has championed this bill for years, and recently sent a letter to the House of Representatives urging it to vote yes on HR 4250. The ACLU cheers this initial victory for press freedoms, and urges the Senate to take up the bill promptly.
“The PRESS Act creates critical protections for the journalists who keep all of us informed,” said Jenna Leventoff, ACLU senior policy counsel. “The press is so vital to our democracy that protections for a free press were written into the First Amendment of the Constitution. By preventing the government from compelling the disclosure of sources, or spying on journalists as a work-around, this legislation will ensure that journalists across the country have the confidentiality they need to do their jobs.”
While the majority of states already have shield laws in place that protect journalists from compelled disclosure of their sources, the PRESS Act provides uniform protections to journalists across the country. The ACLU urges the Senate to protect our right to a free press and pass the PRESS Act.
Originally published at https://www.aclu.org/press-releases/aclu-cheers-house-passage-of-the-press-act