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Lawmaker aims to prevent covert farm videos

Update: After the post was published, senators amended the bill and passed it without the farm photography section. The House version of the bill, HB1021, still contains the provision, and will be heard Wednesday.

Tampa Republican Sen. Jim Norman will again have to trim back his proposal aimed at preventing animal rights activists from capturing photo or video of farm footage they consider cruel.

The bill, SB1184, is meant to target employees, or activists pretending to be on a farm for some other purpose, and prevent them from taking photos or videos that could be misconstrued by the public and harm farm industries.
 
But critics argue that the bill's reach is too broad, making it a crime for tourists, photojournalists or any unsuspecting photographer to take a photo.
 
Senators in the Committee on Agriculture postponed the vote to give Norman time to narrow the bill.

Animal rights groups say the proposal should be eliminated altogether because existing laws address trespass and slander.

“What is being hidden?” asked Laura Bevan of The Humane Society of the United States. “If there are things going on in farms that are misunderstood, educate people, don’t make this law that has unintended consequences.”
 
A similar measure was introduced, toned down, and adopted in the Senate last year before ultimately dying in the House.

Last year’s original bill garnered national buzz because it would have charged lawbreaking photographers or videographers with a first-degree felony, on par with the penalty for murder or rape. The New York Times labeled the bill "croparazzi."
 
The current proposal would charge offenders with a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in prison and a $1,000 fine.
 
The law is needed, proponents say, because of cases like one in Texas, where animal rights activists wired themselves with hidden cameras to get footage of an egg farm that they used in an anti-factory campaign.

Comments

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Amber

There is so much technology in the world today that almost anything is possible. One item thats very possible is EDDITING PHOTOS. As in certain people may take photos on a farm and then edit them to make them look worse then they really are. I live and hope to someday manage and run the family farm. Farmers do not hide anything. What is shown in the papers or online is what the activists want people to see. Guarenteed NONE of the activists EVER lived and or worked on a farm before but yet they can pass judgement on what farmers do? How is that fair? I challenge EVER SINGLE activist to work full time on a farm and for them to manage that farm with the farmers help of course, then see how they think about things! I am only 19 and to me, this is so stupid! If you dont know a thing about farming then you shouldnt be dissing it! Il agree that maybe some farmers were not meant to farm and may not know how to treat their animals right, but does that give people the right to "post" things about that farm and make people think that all farms are like that? NO! So please at least THINK before you post pictures os "certain" farms and how those pictures will affect EVERYBODY. Thank you!

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