The bill empowers member of the media by regulating the terms on which they can be subpoenaed. It also includes a list of exceptions that may lend more power to the federal government, often when they are seeking leads in cases of leaked classified information.
Specifically, this bill would outline who is considered a member of the media and points out where the protections of the media DO NOT apply. In the bill, media are referred to as “covered persons,” defined as:
- Anyone involved in the production (interviewing, observation, editing, or publishing, photographing, recording, etc.) of news reports or news gathering.
- Any supervisor, employer, or subsidiary company of the organization that the covered person was reporting for.
S. 987 also outlines a list of exceptions in which “covered persons” cannot fight a subpoena:
- In the case that the party subpoenaing a “covered person” has exhausted all other informational outlets or resources.
- In cases of classified information that jeopardize national security.
- In criminal cases that could identify suspected terrorists.
- In any case where information could help be used to solve or mitigate cases relating to death, bodily injury, or kidnappings.
- If the information was gathered during a criminal act, other than an act of leaking classified information.
The act also requires the Inspector General of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to audit the bill’s impact two years after it has passed, in an effort to check for court failures and to determine whether or not it has created obstacles for the FBI.