Bill filed to protect confidentiality of press sources
By John McPhaul
Sen. Joanne Rodríguez Veve, the spokesperson for the Project Dignity Party in the upper chamber, filed a bill on Monday to create a “shield” law so that a journalist, reporter or other media can guarantee to a source that their identity will not be revealed within reasonable parameters and, in turn, to prevent a journalist or reporter from being legally forced or compelled to reveal their sources of information.
“As far as press freedom is concerned, compelling a journalist or media outlet to reveal the confidentiality of sources has a ‘chilling effect’ that not only affects them when deciding whether to publish a story or not, but it also affects potential confidants, since it discourages them from providing information of public interest for fear of reprisals and sanctions due to the lack of guarantees of protection of their identity,” Rodríguez Veve said in a written statement.
Section 4 of Article II of the Puerto Rico Constitution enshrines the fundamental right to freedom of expression and freedom of the press, fundamental rights for the functioning of a democracy since by having a free flow of information, the participation of society in public affairs is encouraged and allows the free interaction of its components both in the public and private sectors, the senator noted.
The measure also aims to prevent a journalist or reporter from being sanctioned and even imprisoned for refusing to reveal their sources. As a remedy, compensation for damages is provided for in three ways, in favor of the reporter, journalist or media outlet, as well as the source, in the event of reprisals.
“This law is intended to protect and allow the free and full exercise of journalism, while preserving the right of citizens to have access to certain information that would not otherwise be disclosed,” Rodríguez Veve said.