Tuesday, March 20 , 2018, 12:49 am | Fair 49º


Rep. Lois Capps: Shield Law Will Protect Journalists, Confidential Sources

Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, on Wednesday applauded Tuesday’s House passage of the Free Flow of Information Act of 2009 (H.R. 985). The legislation passed with broad bipartisan support by a voice vote.

The bill would ensure that reporters possess the ability to protect the identity of sources and report appropriate information without fear of intimidation or imprisonment. The legislation would set criteria that must be met in order to compel the disclosure of sources and information from reporters in any federal criminal or civil matter to protect the ability of reporters to guarantee confidentiality to their sources. These standards would carefully balance the public’s interest in the free flow of information with the fair administration of justice and the need of law enforcement and national security. The House passed identical legislation with broad bipartisan support in 2007 but the Senate did not act on the measure then. Capps is hopeful the Senate will take up the measure in the 111th Congress.

“A free press is absolutely critical to the proper functioning of our democracy,” Capps said in a statement. “Under current federal law the Bush administration was able to, and frequently did, pressure reporters and their publications to reveal the identity of their confidential sources in an effort to silence legitimate criticism of its actions. But responsible use of anonymous sources has long been a tool for getting important facts to the public. From Watergate to the Iraq War, news stories partially based on accurate information provided anonymously to reporters has shed much needed light on important national security issues.

“Enacting the Free Flow of Information Act will protect journalists and their sources, and ensure our country has a free and vibrant press.”

— Emily Kryder is communications director for Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara.

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