A controversy erupted in May when it was publicly revealed that the Department of Justice had monitored the movements of and subpoenaed phone and data records belonging to Fox News reporter James Rosen. The journalistic community bristled when the indictment against a State Department source who provided Rosen with information also named the reporter as a “co-conspirator” in the effort to violate the Espionage Act. The scandal was compounded by the revelation that the DOJ had unilaterally obtained phone records from 20 Associated Press telephone lines. On Friday, the DOJ announced new rules which would make it harder for investigators to access the communications records of journalists.
“The new guidelines,” a New York Times report reads, “would prevent the Federal Bureau of Investigation from portraying a reporter as a co-conspirator in a criminal leak as a way to get around a legal bar on secret search warrants for reporting materials, as an agent did in a recently revealed search warrant affidavit involving a Fox News reporter.”
Investigators would still be able to investigate reporters and obtain access to their communications records, but that process requires the investigators notify the journalistic organization of the investigation.
“This is as far as the department can go on its own until Congress passes the media shield legislation,” a Justice Department spokesperson told the Times.
h/t New York Times
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