Editorial: Colorado lawmakers should stop photo privacy bill

From the Longmont Times-Call:  Proposals to add criminal penalties to the long list of offenses that Coloradans can be accused of committing should be given the greatest scrutiny. A close look and a skeptic’s eyes are needed by legislators and potentially the governor when studying House Bill 15-1115, which would criminalize the recording of a person who has an “expectation of privacy.”

The bill, which has received preliminary passage the House of Representatives, began as a focus on the use of drones and other emerging technologies in the taking of photographs. The bill changed into a version much broader in scope and with many unintended consequences. If passed by House and Senate and signed by the governor, HB 15-1115 would create an administrative and legal nightmare for Colorado prosecutors, courts and citizens.

As described by the executive director of the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition, Jeffrey A. Roberts, the bill, as amended “would create a class 3 misdemeanor for ‘knowlingly and intentionally’ photographing or otherwise recording another person without consent in situations where that person has a reasonable expectation of privacy.”

What does that mean? Who will define the words that would allow for a criminal prosecution?

The specifics have not been determined, and that’s where this proposal, which may have sounded reasonable at first glance, begins to fall apart.

The Colorado Press Association and the Colorado Broadcasters Association are concerned that the bill does not adequately explain the conditions under which a photographer could be prosecuted.

Visit the Times-Call for more.


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