Appearing yesterday before a subcommittee of the House Committee on the Judiciary for a hearing on “Fighting for a Free Press: Protecting Journalists and their Sources,” the Institute’s Policy Director Nadine Farid Johnson discussed the need for a federal press shield law, and advocated for its passage to provide critical support to the free press. In her testimony, she noted the importance of safeguarding the First Amendment rights of journalists and news organizations to publish vital information in the public interest.

The PRESS Act, which was passed in the House on January 18 but has yet to be taken up by the Senate, would “protect confidential sources that enable the press to do its job, and facilitate the free flow of information to the American public in furtherance of the people’s right to know about their government,” said Farid Johnson. She added that the bill would offer much-needed certainty and predictability for reporters and media organizations given courts’ differing approaches to journalists’ First Amendment rights. She commended the bill’s language accounting for the broad landscape of journalism in the digital age, and noted its protection of journalists’ data with provisions meant to limit compulsory disclosure to the government of information held by third party cellular phone and internet providers. 

Read Farid Johnson’s full testimony here.