Tuesday, October 16, 2007

U.S. House passes bill to protect reporters' sources

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a news-media shield bill today that would protect reporters from revealing their confidential sources in federal courts, The Associated Press reports. While the bill would force reporters to name their sources if that information is related to an imminent terrorist attack or matter of national security, the White House threatened a veto saying the privileges "could severely frustrate — an in some cases completely eviscerate — the ability to investigate acts of terrorism or threats to national security."

The bill has the support of more than 50 news outlets, including the AP, as well as organizations such as the Society of Professional Journalists. "America is not a country where journalists should be jailed," SPJ President Clint Brewer said. "This bill will allow the working press and those acting as journalists to serve society without fear of reprisal or intrusion from overzealous prosecutors."

The bill had bi-partisan sponsors and passed by a voted of 398-21. "The Free Flow of Information Act is not about protecting reporters; it is about protecting the public's right to know," said Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., who is co-sponsored the bill along with Rep. Rick Boucher, D-Va. There is a similar measure in the Senate, and although it has cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee, it could be some time before it comes to a full vote there. (Read more)

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