In the end, the solution may lie outside the digital world and in the analog world of laws and courts. The DOJ's actions have resurrected an old legislative chestnut: shield laws for journalists, although it's unlikely that any shield law would have protected the AP in this case, as the DOJ claimed national security issues were involved in the affair.
"It is inconceivable that any shield law could ever be passed unless it had a pretty significant loophole for national security," Northeastern's Kennedy said.
Another solution for news organizations is to challenge the DOJ's actions in the courts. "If they can get a court case on the record that says this kind of search is an overreach, then that would tangibly strengthen the protections given to journalists," Pew's Jurkowitz said.
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