ACLU Applauds House Action on Reporters’ Shield

August 1, 2007 12:00 am

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Washington, DC – The American Civil Liberties Union was optimistic today after a mark-up in the House Judiciary Committee on legislation that would protect the First Amendment rights of all Americans. The Free Flow of Information Act of 2007, H.R. 2102, which contains specific speech protections for journalists, passed the committee by voice vote. The legislation would establish a qualified privilege protecting journalists from being compelled to reveal their anonymous sources, balanced with other interests. The privilege includes a narrow exception that would only allow a reporter to be compelled to reveal a source if there is an actual and imminent danger to national security or public safety.

The following can be attributed to Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office:

“It’s encouraging to see that the committee recognizes the importance of this legislation. Freedom of the press is a core American principle and it should be fiercely guarded. Especially in light of the executive branch’s repeated attempts to govern from the shadows, it is vital that we have an independent press that can expose unlawful government activities.

“The consequences of groundbreaking stories that exposed secret CIA prisons and warrantless wiretapping have stretched years beyond their publication date. These stories and others that changed the social and political landscape are the products of intrepid reporters and their use of sources. We urge Congress to continue to support and protect that relationship and Americans’ right to the free flow of information.”

To read the ACLU’s report on the need for a Reporters’ Shield Law, go to:

/freespeech/gen/29028pub20070314.html

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