State Sen. Jim Norman, a Republican from Tampa, is very concerned about a farm's right to privacy, while showing little regard for the First Amendment. He has filed a bill in the Florida Senate that would make it a first-degree felony to photograph or videotape farms without express written consent of the owner. Better hurry up and take a picture of some farm's bull's shit to express your feelings about the bill while you still can.
You might have heard of these laws forbidding people from trespassing. For some reason, the first section of the bill just wants to establish a special farm trespassing law.
But the second half of the bill would prohibit photographing a farm even from off the property. So let's say you're cruising along some highway in Central Florida on your way to Disney and spot some cows grazing on farmland. Don't take out your cell phone camera to snap a pic, because that would make you a felon!
Here's the specific text of the bill:
A person who photographs, video records, or otherwise produces images or pictorial records, digital or otherwise, at or of a farm or other property where legitimate agriculture operations are being conducted without the written consent of the owner, or an authorized representative of the owner, commits a felony of the first degree.Salon.com legitimately wonders if this would make Google Earth or Google Maps images of Florida's vast agriculture land illegal.
Though Norman hasn't clarified the exact intentions of the bill, many observers think it was filed at the behest of agriculture special interests who want to prohibit animal rights activists from filming possible animal mistreatment.
Photography is protected in most cases under the First Amendment, and Norman's bill, as it is written now, flies in that basic right's face.
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