“In the First Amendment, the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy.” —New York Times Co. v. United States 403 U.S. 713, 717 (1971)
MFIA pursues litigation and advocates for policies needed to protect the essential work of newsgatherers in the digital age.
In 2013, Texas enacted the Texas Privacy Act, which strictly regulates the use of drones. Though the law is designed to protect individual privacy, it appears equally motivated by a desire to protect corporate interests and prevent recording of sites of pollution and protest. It preemptively limits the ability to take aerial photographs of huge areas of the state, even in the absence of any acute necessity. The Clinic filed a complaint on behalf of several journalists and news organizations to challenge the constitutionality of the Texas Privacy Act. In its complaint, the Clinic asserts that the law chills protected speech and newsgathering activity by preventing journalists, activists, and others from using drones to investigate misconduct.