Pa. lawmaker seeks to ban photos, video on farms

May 2, 2013 at 4:41 PM

HARRISBURG, Pa., May 2 (UPI) -- A Pennsylvania lawmaker is seeking to make it against the law to take pictures or record video on private farms in the state without the farm owner's consent.

Sen. Mike Brubaker, R-Lancaster, proposed the measure Wednesday and began seeking out legislative co-sponsors, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

The bill would make unauthorized photography or videotaping a type of agricultural trespassing. Recordings targeting animal abuse would not be considered illegal under the bill, if they are shared exclusively with the police.

He put forth a similar measure last year, but was met with resistance.

"This is not restricting photographs," Brubaker said. "My prior bill did. This bill allows photographs to be taken and then the bill instructs clearly the person taking those photographs in what they need to do" with them.

"So if the purpose of taking a photograph is to document inhumane treatment of animals, putting it on a social website does not get the job done," he continued. "We need to ensure those photographs are properly taken on that site in question and that true inhumane treatment of animals has been occurring on that farm. And if that's the case, it's law enforcement's responsibility to prosecute that case."

Andy Hoover, legislative director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, said the proposed law may infringe upon the First Amendment right to freedom of speech.

"Based on the press release there will be a prohibition of some sort of distributing of photos and videos," Hoover said. "That causes a First Amendment problem. Only in very narrow circumstances can the government prohibit expression through photos and videos, and this does not fit those narrow exceptions."

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