Aug. 9, 2019 – The NewsGuild-CWA joined the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press and three dozen other organizations in signing a letter to members of Congress urging them to oppose the dramatic expansion of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act of 1982, one of the few laws that criminalizes the publication of truthful information about government activities. The bill expanding the law was recently rushed through Congress without meaningful debate, the letter said.
Expansion of the law is pending as part of intelligence authorization bills that have passed the House and Senate.
“We urge you to strip the provision and, barring that, to support future amendments to the law to better protect First Amendment press rights. This objective can be accomplished without compromising national security,” the letter said.
“Whenever a law criminalizes the publication of true information, it raises core First Amendment issues,” the groups wrote. The Supreme Court has repeatedly affirmed that, “If a newspaper obtains truthful information about a matter of public significance then state officials may not constitutionally punish publication of the information absent a need . . . of the highest order.”
“The proposed amendment falls short of that legal standard,” they wrote.