Montana's senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus is co-sponsoring a bipartisan bill to establish a federal media shield law. The legislation is designed to extend federal protections to journalists that allow them to protect confidential sources, gather and report information free from government intrusion.
Recent revelations of the Department of Justice subpoenaing Associated Press phone records have sparked interest in extending protections to journalists. The Free Flow of Information Act of 2013 would have required an additional check by the courts to approve or deny such a request.
"Freedom of the press is the foundation of our democracy and essential to who we are as Montanans and Americans. I'm proud of Montana's shield law and believe even stronger laws at the national level to protect journalists will combat the chilling impact the DOJ's actions have had on the press," said Baucus.
Senator Tester is also a co-sponsor of the legislation. Most states, including the State of Montana, have similar state media shield laws.The Free Flow of Information Act of 2013 (S.987) would:
Provide protection for journalists against revealing information identifying a source or documents obtained confidentially.
Requires notice to the media record whose records are sought.
Provides the media the opportunity to challenge in court a government subpoena for documents protected under the Act.
The bill does not protect documents obtained criminally or documents needed to prevent certain crimes.
Additionally, there is no privilege and information may be sought in cases of national security.