Shield laws give reporters the privilege not to reveal their sources of confidential information. In both the process of gathering news and publishing it, they are given the legal right not to testify about information they find or about the people who provide it. Neither court orders or subpoenas can be used to compel them to reveal sources.
Almost all states have them, basing them on the First Amendment and its guarantee of Freedom of the Press. However, there are no federal shield laws. The state laws also carry restrictions about what information can be reported in cases of rape and other sexual offenses.
There is ongoing controversy about tis privilege, usually dealing with the right of law enforcement to catch criminals and preventing interference with Grand Jury investigations.
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