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IN lawmakers consider anti-whistle blower law

Activists taking videos or photos of potentially illegal or embarrassing practices at farms and factories could be subject to new criminal penalties under legislation approved by the Senate.

A measure authored by Senator Travis Holdman (R-Markle) makes it a crime for anyone to videotape or photograph agricultural or industrial operations and share those photos with the public in an attempt to harm or defame the business.

Opponents say efforts the bill is trying to outlaw have led to significant changes at animal farms in states like California and Ohio. Environmental groups say the public relies on that kind of whistleblower activity. 

However, Holdman says his bill doesn’t prevent people from reporting wrongdoing.

“Anybody is excluded that does this as long as they turn over the videotape or the photograph to law enforcement or a regulatory agency that would have oversight of that operation within 48 hours.”

Hoosier Environmental Council policy director Kim Ferraro says if the activity being videotaped or photographed isn’t yet illegal, law enforcement can’t help. She also says turning to regulatory agencies isn’t always the answer.

“Whether it be due to lack of political will or lack of resources, they are often times complicit in the activity, know about it and are simply looking the other way.”

Ferraro says there are other penalties – including trespassing – that can prevent people with bad intent from encroaching on farms and factories without punishing whistle blowers. 

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.
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