Senate OKs Ban On Distribution Of Unsolicited Farm Photography & Filming

By Emma Koch

Senate OKs Ban On Distribution Of Unsolicited Farm Photography & Filming

February 27, 2013 Updated Nov 1, 2013 at 8:03 AM EDT

INDIANA (www.incnow.tv) -- A hot button topic at the Indiana Statehouse is moving forward with lawmakers.

Two weeks ago a Senate committee voted to approve Bill 373, which makes photographing or filming at a farm and then distributing the content with the intent of defaming or harming the farm illegal, and now the Indiana Senate has voted 30-20 to approve the bill.

The Senate included an amendment that will allow whistle-blowers to hand over video or photos that show possible animal abuse to the authorities. But they are not allowed to distribute the content publicly.

Many say that the undercover videos expose farms and businesses that practice inhumane treatment of animals. Others say it's a matter of privacy.

State Senator and the bill's author, Travis Holdman (R-Markle) is against animal activists sometimes disguising themselves as employees to look for evidence of possible abuse on farms. He says that law enforcement and regulatory agencies are in place to monitor those issues and that activists are taking the law into their own hands.

State Senator Karen Tallian (D-Portage) argues that the law violates free press protections and that if someone observes environmental or safety hazards such as illegal dumping, they should not be punished for sharing that information publicly.

The state constitution says "No law shall be passed, restraining the free interchange of thought and opinion, or restricting the right to speak, write, or print, freely, on any subject whatever: But for the abuse of that right, every person shall be responsible."

Erin Huang, former Marion County deputy prosecutor and new state director of the Humane Society of the U. S. urged lawmakers not to pass the bill. Huang cited cases where undercover videos incited change, that in some instances would have been considered legal until public outcry forced change.

The bill now moves to the Indiana House.

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