The US government confirmed on Saturday that it would stop secretly obtaining phone and email data from journalists during investigations into political leaks, ending measures that have often faced criticism and accusations of undermining press freedom.
The New York Times reported this week that under the administration of Republican Donald Trump and then Democratic President Joe Biden, the Department of Justice fought a secret legal battle to obtain the email data of four of the newspaper’s reporters in search of sources for leaks.
And the Ministry of Justice announced in a statement yesterday, “changing these long-standing practices,” stressing that it “will not seek to take mandatory legal measures in investigations into leaks to obtain the source of information from media workers.”
It added that it had “completed a review to identify all pending cases for which the ministry received requests from reporters in investigations of leaks, and that all relevant correspondents were informed.”
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that “issuing memos to obtain correspondents’ data in the leak investigation is inconsistent with the policy direction of the president” Biden.
CNN reported last month that “the Trump administration secretly sought and succeeded in obtaining the phone and email data of one of its correspondents.”