Gov. Brown signs bill mandating greater protections from secret monitoring of California journalists

October 03, 2013
05-23-13 SB 558 LadyJustice.jgp_.jpg

Sen. Ted W. Lieu bill will shut loophole in California’s ‘Shield Law’
 
SACRAMENTO – Gov. Brown today signed into law a Sen. Ted W. Lieu bill mandating that reporters and their news organizations be given five days’ notice of any subpoenas of their records held by others.
 
Those records include phone calls or other invasions of their newsgathering communications, according to Senate Bill 558, sponsored by the California Newspaper Publishers Association.
 
“The government has shown on some occasions a disregard for Freedom of the Press,” Lieu, D-Torrance, said about a measure that takes effect Jan. 1, 2014. “Today’s bipartisan vote makes it clear: California will protect the First Amendment.”
 
Lieu introduced SB 558 after recent reports showed the federal government secretly collected the phone records of the Associated Press by going after third-party vendors, such as phone companies, internet-service providers, hotels and car-rental firms. The wiretaps of AP phone records included calls from several East Coast bureaus and more than 20 lines, including personal phones and AP phone numbers in New York; Hartford, Connecticut; and Washington D.C.  The records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the newsgathering activities undertaken by the AP during a two-month period.  Lieu said his measure specifically applies to third-party vendors.

Lieu said he is proud California already had a shield law that requires law enforcement to give five days’ advance notice to news organizations for subpoenas served on the actual news company or reporter.  But the U.S. Department of Justice just gave a roadmap on ways to bypass the shield law by going after firms like telephone or communications companies that have personal and work related information of journalists, Lieu said.
 
Lieu, who served as the editor in chief of the Law Review at Georgetown University Law Center, said the freedom of the press guaranteed by the First Amendment is essential to America’s way of life.
 
“SB 558 will ensure that reporters will be able to continue to deliver to readers solid investigative stories about government activities without fear that officials can tiptoe around the Reporters’ Shield law to access their sources and notes from the Cloud or cell phone providers," said Jim Ewert, general counsel of CNPA.
 
For more, including a Fact Sheet on SB 558, please visit Lieu’s Web site at the address below. 
 
Ted W. Lieu represents the more than 1 million residents of Senate District 28, which includes the cities of Beverly Hills, Carson, El Segundo, Hermosa Beach, Lomita, Manhattan Beach, Redondo Beach, Santa Monica, Torrance, West Hollywood and the Palos Verdes Peninsula as well as portions of Long Beach and Los Angeles including, Beverly Glenn, Brentwood, Cheviot Hills, Harbor City, Hollywood Hills, Marina del Rey, Mar Vista, Pacific Palisades, Playa del Rey, San Pedro, Venice, Westwood and Wilmington. See a district map HERE: For more, visit www.senate.ca.gov/lieu.

CONTACT: Ray Sotero
Communications Director
Sen. Ted W. Lieu, Senate District 28
Capitol Building, Room 4061
Sacramento, Calif. 95814
(916) 651-4028 office
www.sen.ca.gov/Lieu