Photojournalist Files Lawsuit to Block Subpoena From Jan. 6 Committee

A freelance photojournalist has filed a lawsuit to block the House select committee probing the January 6 protest from subpoenaing her phone records.

Indiana-based photojournalist Amy Harris argues that the committee is violating her First Amendment right to reporter’s privilege.

The lawsuit explains that on December 2, she was informed by Verizon that her phone records from Nov. 1, 2020, through Jan. 31, 2021, were subpoenaed by the committee. Verizon stated that they would be complying unless she planned to take action to block it — which she has.

“Harris has a reasonable expectation of privacy in her personal cell phone data,” the lawsuit states, according to a report from The Hill. It adds that she had private conversations with friends and family as well as journalistic and “confidential sources.”

“The Verizon Subpoena is overly broad with respect to time frame, and contains no limitations seeking to preserve applicable privileges or prevent violations of Harris’ constitutional rights, including her First Amendment rights as a journalist, her protection under the D.C. Shield law, and her Fourth Amendment right against unlawful search and seizure,” the lawsuit said.

Harris is a member of the National Press Photographers Association, who is standing by her.

“While the NPPA greatly appreciates the crucial mission of the House Select Committee to investigate the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, we believe it is misguided for members to subpoena the phone records of a visual journalist who risked her health and safety to report on and photograph protests on both sides of the political spectrum,” said Akili-Casundria Ramsess, NPPA executive director, in a statement posted to Twitter. “Such actions have a chilling effect upon the core First Amendment values critical to the democratic principles the Committee was established to protect and we hope they will seriously reconsider their position in this matter.”


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