New Hampshire House of Representatives member Neal Kurk (R) recently backed a bill that plans to ban almost all aerial photography in the state by classifying it as a class A misdemeanor. The bill, HB 619-FN, seems to be aimed at protecting people’s privacy; however, the fact that it specifically excludes government officials from the ban has raised concerns regarding just that.
Here’s the brunt of the legislation:
A person is guilty of a class A misdemeanor if such person knowingly creates or assists in creating an image of the exterior of any residential dwelling in this state where such image is created by or with the assistance of a satellite, drone, or any device that is not supported by the ground. This prohibition shall not apply where the image does not reveal forms identifiable as human beings or man-made objects.
We’re not sure how the ban would affect Google Maps images, nor does the bill specifically mention aerial videography, but the prohibition from taking photos that “reveal forms identifiable as human beings or man-made objects” would leave NH aerial photographers with significantly fewer subjects to choose from.
Government officials, however, seem to be excluded from the ban entirely:
Paragraphs I [and], II and IV-a shall not be construed to impair or limit any otherwise lawful activities of law enforcement personnel, nor are [they] intended to limit employees of governmental agencies or other entities, public or private, who, in the course and scope of their employment and supported by articulable suspicion, attempt to capture any type of visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression of a person during an investigation, surveillance, or monitoring of conduct to obtain evidence of suspected illegal activity.
It’s unclear if and when the bill would go through, or how exactly enforcement agencies would see fit to enforce the ban. But assuming those obstacles are sufficiently overcome, representative Kurk has proposed that violators of the aerial ban should pay a $63-$65 fine per violation.