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US House passes reporter shield bill

[JURIST] The US House of representatives Tuesday voted 398-21 [roll call] to pass a shield bill [HR 2102 materials] that would prevent courts from compelling reporters to disclose confidential sources. The Free Flow of Information Act of 2007, sponsored by Mike Pence (R-Ind.) and Rick Boucher (D-Va) [press releases], would generally allow reporters to refuse to testify as to their sources without being subject to contempt of court, but nonetheless contains exceptions for situations where the information sought is needed to prevent a terrorist act or to protect national security. The White House has threatened to veto the bill, saying that the exceptions are too narrow. The bill now goes to the Senate.

The US Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] last week voted 15-2 to send a similar shield bill [S 2035 materials] to the full Senate for consideration. The Bush administration and the US Department of Justice have continuously opposed the enactment of a federal reporter shield law [JURIST news archive] citing national security concerns, while proponents, including media outlets, argue the legislation is necessary to protect freedom of the press. AP has more.

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