A bill introduced in Montana’s House Judiciary Committee would bar state government agencies from accessing digital servers to get reporters’ notes.
State Rep. Daniel Zolnikov, R-Billings, introduced House Bill 207 on Jan. 22. It would prohibit Montana state government agencies from accessing digital servers such as Google, Yahoo or Outlook to obtain emails and other electronic communications made by members of the media.
Under Montana’s Media Confidentiality Act, reporters cannot be forced to hand over sources, notes, communications or other information to state government officials while working within the scope of their employment.
Zolnikov, 27, said the bill is not meant to change Montana’s media shield law, but to close a digital loophole in an age of widespread electronic personal data collection. He said issues with privacy and cybersecurity warrant such legislation.