(FRONTPAGE) -- On August 2nd, Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) introduced the Free Press Act of 2012 (FPA), aimed at protecting the First Amendment rights of journalists and internet service providers (ISPs) against “Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation” (SLAPPs). Kyl explained his rationale when he introduced the bill. “The FPA would create a Federal anti-SLAPP statute for journalists, bloggers, and other news media, authorizing them to bring a special motion to dismiss lawsuits brought against them that arise out of their speech on public issues,” Kyl told his Senate colleagues. “Once the special motion to dismiss is brought, the nonmoving party must present a prima facie case supporting the lawsuit; if the nonmovant fails to do so, the lawsuit is dismissed and fees and costs are awarded to the movant.”
Gregg Leslie, legal defense director of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP), explains the concerns that the bill attempts to address. “Reporters–and particularly the newer breed of journalists who are reporting on their own blog or web site and do not have the backing of big publishing or broadcasting companies–are constantly the target of lawsuits that really are designed to do nothing more than shut them up,” he revealed.