Freedom of the Press


The protection of sources, sometimes also referred to as the confidentiality of sources, or, in the U.S., as the reporter’s privilege, is a right accorded to journalists under the laws of many countries, as well as under international law. Simply put, it means that the authorities, including the courts, cannot compel a journalist to reveal the identity of an anonymous source for a story. The right is based on a recognition that without a strong guarantee of anonymity, many people would be deterred from coming forward and sharing information of public interests with journalists. As a result, problems such as corruption or crime might go undetected and unchallenged, to the ultimate detriment of society as a whole. In spite of any such legal protections, the pervasive use of traceable electronic communications by journalists and their sources provides governments with a tool to determine the origin of information.          -Wikipedia

In 2015, I introduced a bill to update Montana’s “Shield Law” to include protections for journalists’ digital communications held by third party providers.

The bill passed nearly unanimously and was signed into law by the governor, making Montana the first state in the nation to specifically protect reporters’ electronic communications.

Bill highlights:

•Prohibits government entities (including the judicial branch) from requesting the disclosure of privileged news media information from electronic communications providers.
•Protects electronic communications providers from being found in contempt for refusing to disclose such information.

The text of the bill can be found here.

The full page about the bill can be found here.