“It is more important than ever to have bipartisan support for the protection of First Amendment freedoms. I am grateful for the unanimous vote of the Judiciary Committee today to secure a core constitutional right and make our government more representative and accountable.” – Congressman Kevin Kiley (R-CA-03)
“H.R. 4250 is necessary and long overdue legislation. I’m encouraged that although there are stark differences among members of this committee, the PRESS Act continues to enjoy bipartisan support. I urge my colleagues to support it.” – Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Jerry Nadler (D-NY-12)
“I just want to say how grateful I am that this bill is before us for markup. This has been a bipartisan effort for many, many years. I’m hopeful that this time we’ll not only get a chance to move it out of committee, but get it to the President’s desk for a signature.” – Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-19)
Background: Rep. Kevin Kiley introduced the bipartisan, bicameral PRESS Act on June 21, 2023. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD-08) is the Democratic co-lead and a companion bill has been introduced by Senators Lee, Durbin, and Wyden in the US Senate. Less than a month after introduction, the PRESS Act has already received unanimous support from the House Judiciary Committee and is now headed to the House Floor.
The PRESS Act ensures reporters cannot be compelled by the government to disclose their confidential sources or research files, and also protects their data held by third parties like phone and internet companies from being secretly seized by the government without the opportunity to challenge those demands in court. The bill shields journalists’ communications records from the government, with narrow exceptions for terrorism and threat of imminent violence or harm.
While 48 states and the District of Columbia have some form of shield law or reporter’s privilege, protections vary significantly, and there is no federal shield law, and the state laws do not apply to investigations by federal agencies, such as the DOJ. Importantly, there are currently no legal restrictions that prevent the government from secretly obtaining a reporter’s records directly from phone companies, email providers and other third parties in order to identify their sources.
It is endorsed by: News/Media Alliance, Radio Television Digital News Association, National Association of Broadcasters, Freedom of the Press Foundation, Demand Progress, American Civil Liberties Union, Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Defending Rights and Dissent, PEN America, Center for Democracy & Technology, First Amendment Coalition, ARTICLE 19, Protect the 1st Foundation, Online News Association, Coalition For Women In Journalism, Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, Government Information Watch, Institute for Nonprofit News, New York News Publishers Association, Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, Granitt, Illinois Eagle, J. The Jewish News of Northern California, Tucson Sentinel and Arizona Press Club.
You can read the bill text here and a summary here.