FTC overreaches by demanding Twitter identify journalists

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Promoting press freedom in the 21st century

Twitter CEO Elon Musk

Daniel Oberhaus

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: We were disturbed by the revelation that the Federal Trade Commission, as part of its investigation into Twitter’s privacy and data practices, demanded Twitter identify all journalists granted access to company records, including in connection with the release of the “Twitter Files.”

Government-compelled identification of journalists is dangerous on its own and enables further surveillance of those identified. Administrations from both political parties have overreached to spy on journalists — especially journalists investigating those in power. The Department of Justice has adopted policies against surveilling journalists, but other agencies like the FTC have not. Congress should pass the PRESS Act and prohibit all presidential administrations, and all government agencies, from abusing their power to spy on journalists.

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A statement from Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF) advocacy director Seth Stern is below:

Anyone who cares about the free press should be concerned by the FTC’s demand that Twitter identify journalists who have received information that might embarrass the administration, regardless of what they think of Elon Musk or Twitter. The FTC should not have to violate the privacy of journalists to protect the privacy of Twitter users.

It’s especially disturbing that the demand could enable future efforts to obtain the journalists’ newsgathering materials. The Biden FTC’s actions add to the long list of reasons why conservatives, and all Americans, should support passing the PRESS Act. It’s the only way to ensure that all administrations, and all government agencies, are prohibited from surveilling or retaliating against journalists.

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