Proposed New Hampshire Bill May Make Aerial Photography a Misdemeanor


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.

(via AGBeat)

Image credit: West Stewartstown Shore and Bank Protection, West Stewartstown, NH by CorpsNewEngland

  • hfc

    Can this be worded more vaguely? Does not supported by the ground include boats?Also do roads count as man made objects? Canals? Farmland?

  • Brian Utterback

    I wonder how many photos of a residential dwelling do not contain the image of a man made object? What if the residence is my own? Shouldn’t I be allowed to take such pictures of my own stuff? What if I take a picture while jumping in the air? Bad law.

  • Rob S

    So every private satellite imagery company would be subject to fines. Good luck with that. It would also seem to exclude weather balloons.
    Interesting exclusion for “any device that is not supported by the ground.” Not only would that specifically allow using an aerostat ( but it could be used as an argument to allow photography from aircraft, satellites and drones since all REQUIRE ground support. In fact, most drones/satellites are controlled from a “ground station.” And all have to be launched from the ground and will eventually return to the ground.
    Poor dumb politician.

  • Sid Ceaser

    New Hampshire, I love living in you, but sometimes you let me down with the stupid people that inhabit you and try to make stupid rules, such as these.

  • Leonardo Abreu

    More and more stupid laws…

  • shmoopers

    Wow, welcome to North Korea

  • shmoopers

    Obviously exaggerating, but come on isn’t this the Live Free or Die state?

  • f2point8

    Yes. And we will meet every airplane and jet liner at the tarmac and inspect all your cameras and digital devices the make sure you’re not taking pictures out the window. Holy $#!t, somebody should be embarrassed this thing ever made it as far as it did.

  • p.rock

    Would love to see the response when Google stops providing the entire state with satellite data on Google Maps.

  • Alan Dove

    Sounds like Rep. Kurk is planning some outdoor action with his boyfriend and doesn’t want to get caught.

  • Kenneth Tanaka

    It’s very cold and very gray in New Hampshire at this time of year.

  • Nico

    Lovely glad I recently moved to California i don’t for see this going through.

  • Bart Noll

    yeah, we vote them in and push them to perform so they have to come up with something to justify their job.

  • pvbella

    Lawmakers are getting dumber and dumber. Soon they will be as dumb as the people who elected and reelcted them.

  • Rick Unsworth

    Yup. They really are F*****G NUTS.

  • Ken Fager

    Question for New Hampshire House of Representatives member Neal Kurk (R): How does this bill increase freedom for American citizens who are photographers?

  • Snarky

    Someone should give the man some credit…Like attach his name to a whole bunch of aerial photos :-D

  • Scott Donald

    So no more football stadium shots from the Goodyear Blimp? No more architects and surveyors doing their job in scoping new building sites? No more skydivers with Hero cams? If he focused on remote controlled image taking, there could be something there. Corporate drones taking photos of you in your backyard to determine what kind of sporting goods to market to you would be something I’d like to stop but what is represented here seems off the mark.

  • Matt

    This bill should be getting the agriculture and forestry camps up in arms, where cameras (IR or video) are used for everything from quickly eyeballing crop or forest health, to spotting and counting, say, grey wolves. This law would entangle their perfectly normal business-related activities.

  • Bob Prangnell

    “Supported from the ground” – most things are. Planes are refuelled (supported) and are in “supporting” radio contact. Not very tight legal language.

  • crummett

    “Neal Kurk (R).” ‘Nuff said.

  • uFail

    You have no jurisdiction…

  • Greg Schmidt

    Kurk would fit in perfectly with our idiot CA legislators.

  • 写真家

    Part of the problem is that these bills are seldom ever written yet alone read by the those who propose them in Congress, whether state or federal level. Often times, they are written by intern majoring in legal degrees or poli-sci degrees for said senate or house official. They get half read to the delegate or senator by house or senate aids to said representative, and then stamped off. Said representative then takes half-ass read bill and presents it to the state or federal level congress for a vote. Or at least that was how it was when my brother-in-law was an intern for his state’s local delegate.

  • Mark
  • richard scalzo

    The guys a moron.

  • Jack Bocchino

    Obviously Neil Kurk is a Republican moron with something to hide! New Hampshire laws on public video taping/recordings/photography have ALWAYS stated that in a public forum, there is NO right to privacy. Neil should promptly get to work on the bubble that should go over the home that he, and any poor family related to him, live in……Or get the hell out of this state!

  • Ken Jones

    Hell, here in South Carolina one Representative tried passing a bill that would, in effect, make all navigation, wayfinding, and locating by GPS illegal. Sometimes you wonder if these folks need someone to dress them in the mornings or whether they actually manage it themselves.

  • Aaron Priest

    I’m am so sick of this “us vs. them” attitude with government getting special privilege to do what we cannot. Sovereignty rests with the individual–with the citizen, and we cannot grant or enumerate a power we ourselves do not possess. They can have AR-15s and 10+ round magazines in pistols, we cannot. They can record us at every intersection on red light cameras and cruiser dash cams, but we can’t record video with a cell phone in an airport or when stopped on a public highway or sidewalk. They can fly unmanned drones and monitor us, but we can’t take a photo from an airplane (which is essentially what that stupid proposed law states). This outrageous tyranny MUST STOP. What happened to LAND of the FREE and HOME of the BRAVE?!! All I see is land of the sheep and home of the slave. This is no longer the country I grew up in and I WANT MY AMERICA BACK.

    I don’t apologize for my rant. I’m sick of my chosen profession being targeted as a terrorist activity. FED UP.

  • Alex Ferrone, Photographer

    As a true Aerial Photographer, I photograph residential and commercial properties from a helicopter – a device not supported by the ground. Are helicopters included in this ban? I do understand the concern about the many people who have new drone toys and are misusing them by spying on their neighbors. However, I make my living as an Aerial Photographer and am very proud of my professional portfolio and my growing commercial and private real estate client list. This ban needs to be more specific and needs to take into consideration the true professionals and consider that this can damage our businesses.

  • David Tiller

    Another legislator suffers from cranial rectal inversion! That is pure bovine excrement!


    live free or die

  • Dov

    Well this sounds like it wont pass constitutional muster.

  • Scott Coleman

    Down with Google Earth and the “Aerial America” series