FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
A coalition of nearly 40 press freedom, civil liberties and other organizations led by Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF) has urged Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to advance the PRESS Act to a vote before Congress adjourns.
The bipartisan act, which unanimously passed the House in September, is a "shield" bill that would protect journalists from surveillance or compelled disclosure of source materials except in emergency situations.
“The PRESS Act would be the most important press freedom legislation to pass Congress in modern history. It would finally allow journalists to do their jobs without being spied on or threatened with arrest for not burning their sources,” said FPF advocacy director Seth Stern.
The Senate must act soon to pass the PRESS Act before its session ends in the next few weeks.
“Sen. Schumer could be a hero to all journalists by making sure this bill gets a vote before the end of the year,” Stern said.
The coalition signed on to the letter includes heavyweights like the ACLU, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders, Electronic Frontier Foundation, PEN America and many more. You can read the full letter and see all its signatories below.
Stern said this chance may not come again for many years. “We believe the PRESS Act has a real chance at passing, and it would finally put an end to the reporter surveillance scandals that have plagued all recent presidential administrations — but only if Schumer acts quickly,” Stern added.
FPF founding board member, actor and activist John Cusack, authored an op-ed in support of the PRESS Act, arguing that “we cannot allow the government to surveil journalists and expose sources … if we expect journalists to expose corruption, speak truth to power and print what the powerful don’t want printed.”
The coalition letter follows a separate letter from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press on behalf of 15 major news organizations including The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR and CNN. Schumer himself is among the many elected officials, both Democrat and Republican, who have in the past supported shield legislation. Forty-nine states have recognized reporter’s privileges, leaving the federal government as the outlier.
Please contact FPF advocacy director Seth Stern for more information. He can be reached at [email protected]