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Tester Beefs Up Protections For Journalists

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U.S. SENATE – Senator Jon Tester today announced that he is co-sponsoring a bipartisan bill to strengthen First Amendment protections for journalists.

Tester's support for the "media shield law" comes in the wake of the federal government's secret and aggressive pursuit of Associated Press phone records. Tester's bill will protect journalists from having to reveal confidential information unless federal officials can prove in court that disclosing the information is in the public's interest.

"Increasing protections for our First Amendment and holding officials more accountable will keep government from crossing the line and stepping on our Constitutional rights," Tester said. "This nation was founded on checks and balances, and smarter oversight will make sure we live up to the expectations of our Founders and the American people."

Tester's media shield law, while making it easier for journalists to safeguard confidential information, includes narrow exceptions to protect national security by allowing judges to determine whether the information is needed to protect the public, such as in the case of an imminent terrorist attack.

Tester, speaking today at a bipartisan press conference unveiling the bill, said the measure will put the burden of proof on the government when it comes to trying to obtain confidential information.

"When it comes to the First Amendment, we're talking about something very important to this country," Tester said. "It's important Congress steps up to the plate and sets the rules of the road."

Tester, a leading voice for protecting Americans' Constitutional rights, consistently votes to repeal the Patriot Act and voted in December to block the extension of the FISA Amendments Act, which expanded the government's ability to spy on law-abiding Americans.

Fellow Montana Senator Max Baucus is also a co-sponsor of Tester's bill.

Tester's bipartisan bill, which is supported by the Newspaper Association of America, is also co-sponsored by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.)

Tester's Free Flow of Information Act is available online HERE.

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