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Blunt questions Labor Department's new press controls

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Sen. Roy Blunt, Missouri Republican, is pushing back against tighter new Department of Labor media rules on the release of sensitive data such as jobless benefits and unemployment figures.

A new Labor Department rule that officials say is designed to enhance the security at the agency’s media filing center will require reporters to use standardized government computers — not their own personal computers as in the past — to file their stories, limiting how the journalists can quickly analyze the information under deadline pressure.

The Labor Department has said the changes are in response to concern that some of the non-traditional news organizations receiving the data may also be forwarding the material for other more business-oriented purposes, which can affect the stock market.

But Mr. Blunt said in a letter to Labor Secretary Hilda Solis that he worries that the proposal infringes on the media’s First Amendment rights and represents “a disturbing retreat from the government transparency that the Obama administration so often touts.”

The Missouri lawmaker asked Ms. Solis to detail the purpose of the proposed changes and what flaws in the current system prompted the changes.

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About the Author

Susan Crabtree

Susan Crabtree is an award-winning investigative reporter with more than 15 years of reporting experience in Washington, D.C. Her reporting about bribery, corruption and conflict-of-interest issues on Capitol Hill has led to several FBI and ethics investigations, as well as consequences for members within their caucuses and at the ballot box. Susan can be reached at scrabtree@washingtontimes.com.

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