Florida Bill Would Criminalize Photographing Farms

Friday, March 11, 2011
Industrial chicken egg farm
Some farmers in Florida want to make it illegal to photograph their properties without their permission in an attempt to thwart animal rights groups from making videos about alleged cruelty.
SB 1246, submitted by state Senator Jim Norman (R-Tampa), would make it a first-degree felony to photograph a farm without first obtaining written permission from the owner. Wilton Simpson, president of Simpson Farms near Dade City, said the law is intended to prevent people from posing as farm-workers in order to secretly film agricultural operations. Simpson, a chicken egg farmer, was unable to provide any examples of this happening, although animal rights groups elsewhere have infiltrated farms to expose cruel or unhealthy practices.
Media law experts say the proposal is unconstitutional, and those seeking protection for farm animals claim the bill is really targeting them.
Judy Dalglish, executive director for The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, told the Florida Current that photographing property from a roadside or from the air is legal. The bill “is just flat-out unconstitutional, not to mention stupid,” she said.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
SB 1246 (Florida Senate)


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