Other legislators who signed on as co-sponsors are: Sen. Joan M. Menard (D-Somerset), Sen. Scott P. Brown(R- Wrentham), Sen. Mark C. Montigny (D-New Bedford), Sen. Stephen M. Brewer (Barre-Worcester County), Sen. James E. Timilty (Norfolk-Bristol), Rep. Garrett J. Bradley (Hingham) and Rep. James M. Murphy (Weymouth). (Additional sponsors may be added until Jan. 22.)
The text of the bills is not yet available on the legislature's Web site. The House bill has been docketed as HD 1130. The Senate bill has been docketed as SD 00847. The bills read as follows:
AN ACT to establish protections against compelled disclosure of sources, and news or information, by persons providing services for the news media.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the `Free Flow of Information Act'.
SEC. 2. DEFINITIONS.
In this Act:
(1) COVERED PERSON- The term `covered person' means a person who--
(A) engages in the gathering of news or information; and
(B) has the intent, at the beginning of the process of gathering news or information, to disseminate the news or information to the public.
(2) NEWS OR INFORMATION- The term `news or information' means written, oral, pictorial, photographic, or electronically recorded information or communication concerning local, national, or worldwide events, or other matters.
(3) NEWS MEDIA- The term `the news media' means--
(A) a newspaper;
(B) a magazine;
(C) a journal or other periodical;
(F) any means of disseminating news or information gathered by press associations, news agencies, or wire services (including dissemination to the news media described in subparagraphs (A) through (E)); or
(G) any printed, photographic, mechanical, or electronic means of disseminating news or information to the public.
SEC. 3. COMPELLED DISCLOSURE PROHIBITED.
(a) IN GENERAL- Except as provided in section 4, no entity of the judicial, legislative, or executive branch of the Commonwealth with the power to issue a subpoena or provide other compulsory process shall compel any covered person who is providing or has provided services for the news media to disclose--
(1) the source of any news or information procured by the person, or any information that would tend to identify the source, while providing services for the news media, whether or not the source has been promised confidentiality; or
(2) any news or information procured by the person, while providing services for the news media, that is not itself communicated in the news media, including any--
(C) photographs or photographic negatives;
(D) video or sound tapes;
(E) film; or
(F) other data, irrespective of its nature, that is not itself communicated in the news media.
(b) SUPERVISORS, EMPLOYERS, AND PERSONS ASSISTING A COVERED PERSON- The protection from compelled disclosure described in subsection (a) shall apply to a supervisor, employer, or any person assisting a person covered by subsection (a).
(c) RESULT- Any news or information obtained in violation of the provisions of this section shall be inadmissible in any action, proceeding, or hearing before any entity of the judicial, legislative, or executive branch of the Commonwealth.
SEC.4. COMPELLED DISCLOSURE TO PROTECT PUBLIC SECURITY AGAINST TERRORIST ACTS
(1) A state entity may not compel a covered person to testify or produce any document in any proceeding or in connection with any issue arising under state law unless ... (a) disclosure of the identity of such a source is necessary to prevent imminent and actual harm to public security from acts of terrorism; (b) compelled disclosure of the identity of such a source would prevent such harm; and (c) the harm sought to be redressed by requiring disclosure clearly outweighs the public interest in protecting the free flow of information.
SEC. 5. COMPELLED DISCLOSURE PERMITTED.
(a) NEWS OR INFORMATION- A court may compel disclosure of news or information described in section 3(a)(2) and protected from disclosure under section 3 if the court finds, after providing notice and an opportunity to be heard to the person or entity from whom the news or information is sought, that the party seeking the news or information established by clear and convincing evidence that--
(1) the news or information is critical and necessary to the resolution of a significant legal issue before an entity of the judicial, legislative, or executive branch of the Commonwealth that has the power to issue a subpoena;
(2) the news or information could not be obtained by any alternative means; and
(3) there is an overriding public interest in the disclosure.
(b) SOURCE- A court may not compel disclosure of the source of any news or information described in section 3(a)(1) and protected from disclosure under section 3.
SEC. 6. ACTIVITIES NOT CONSTITUTING A WAIVER.
The publication by the news media, or the dissemination by a person while providing services for the news media, of a source of news or information, or a portion of the news or information, procured in the course of pursuing professional activities shall not constitute a waiver of the protection from compelled disclosure that is described in section 3.