Justice Department tightens rules on subpoenas, warrants involving journalists


US Attorney General Eric Holder holds a news conference at which he said he recused himself last year from a national security leak probe in which prosecutors obtained the phone records of Associated Press journalists at the Justice Department May 14, 2013 in Washington, DC.


Chip Somodevilla

The United States Justice Department issued new guidelines on Friday for federal prosecutors investigating information obtained by journalists.

Going forward, there will be greater restrictions on prosecutors who are trying to obtain search warrants and subpoenas for that information.

The guidelines will apply to reporters' phone and email records as well as their credit cards. The Wall Street Journal explained the updated rules still allow the government to obtain reporters' records in the case of ongoing "leak investigations." But in all other situations, the reporter must be under criminal investigation.

In most cases, prosecutors will now be required to give a media organization notice before a subpoenaing their records.

More from GlobalPost: AP phone probe: Attorney General Holder says leak put American people 'at risk'

The changes follow an internal review of the current policy from Attorney General Eric Holder, which President Barack Obama had requested.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said the president was briefed on the report earlier in the day, CNN reported.

The review comes in response to public outrage over a recent string of controversial government probes into journalists involved in national security reporting.

Most notable was the revelation that the Justice Department sought a number of Associated Press employees' phone records and also targeted a Fox News national security reporter as part of a separate leak investigation.

A Justice Department official told Reuters the guidelines will go into effect “almost immediately.”