New Hampshire Politicians Want To Make 'Satellite View' On Maps A Criminal Offense

from the say-what-now? dept

This is insane. Some politicians in New Hampshire have put forth a bill that would make it illegal to do aerial photography of any “residential dwelling.” The key text of HB-619-FN is as follows:

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.

If you’re thinking that this would make it a misdemeanor (which is still a crime…) for people to work on things like Mapquest, Google Maps and Bing Maps — all of which have “aerial” views (often called “satellite view,” though some are assisted by airplanes as well) — to even exist, well, then, you have a point. Also, I don’t know about you, but I’ve taken plenty of photographs out the window of an airplane, which have certainly included images of residential dwellings which revealed “forms identifiable as… man-made objects.”

This seems like an extremist view of what “privacy” should be about, ignoring the fact that an aerial shot of your house is simply not a privacy issue. I am reminded, not surprisingly, of the story which resulted in the coining of “The Streisand Effect,” in which Barbara Streisand sued a photographer for taking an aerial photograph of her house, as part of a project to photograph the entire California coastline from a helicopter (to study the impact of erosion). It was crazy to think of that as a privacy violation, and the court clearly agreed, siding with the photographer over Streisand.

And, it appears, lots of other courts have said that photographing someone’s residence is perfectly legal:

Many courts have held that it’s not illegal to photograph a residence, such as the case in California and South Carolina and the issue has been addressed by other lawyers here and here. Usually the issue is whether the photograph invades the privacy of a person, which is difficult to do from the air, but is already addressed by case law.

Hopefully the legislature in New Hampshire realizes this is a complete overreach in the name of bogus privacy claims and drops the bill.

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Comments on “New Hampshire Politicians Want To Make 'Satellite View' On Maps A Criminal Offense”

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Hmmm… interesting. On a quick skim of the text I can see exceptions for law enforcement but not private citizens except where they’re involved in a similar type of investigation. That could lead to interesting court cases – all you need is for you to hire someone for a legitimate job, then a neighbour complains about the photographer’s plane, and all sorts of unintended fun for all!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:


everything is illegal, or at least is heading in the direction of being illegal, unless ‘the authorities’ say it isn’t illegal. please remember to bear in mind that

a)they were voted into the positions of authority by the people

b)they are supposed to be representing the people

c)they are supposed to be keeping the people ‘safe’ (not sure from whom any more though!)

Oliver Wendell Jones says:

Is it about mapping or peeping?

I imagine that this law has more to do with privately owned drones and R/C helicopters equipped with HD video cameras that can be used to observe your neighbor sunbathing more than it has to do with not allowing Google, Bing, Mapquest, etc. to continue to use such imagery to provide a better quality product.

There has also been instances of the EPA using drones to fly over farmland looking for violations, and other such “domestic spying” that they may be trying to prevent.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Is it about mapping or peeping?

You actually probably can’t separate the two.

Game publishers would be screwed, surveyors would get screwed, GIS making would become a problem if you are trying to map the 4th dimension(time) that means you can’t make detailed maps of any region. Next generation devices that are position aware would be affected also, they create maps of interiors of buildings and show it to you, so you know exactly where you are all the time, this means robots will have to find another way to locate themselves in space.

Making everything illegal would have huge drawbacks.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Is it about mapping or peeping?

I know that in my area, there is existing law to cover this. It works like so: you can peep all you want, so long as you are doing so from a place that you’re allowed to be. If you’re walking down the sidewalk and can see a beautiful naked woman through a window left unshuttered, you’re legally within your rights to stand and stare (or photograph) all you want. With flying things, the airspace a few hundred feet above your property is still considered your property, so nobody could legally hover a helicopter low over your yard or peep into your windows that way. However, above a certain height, it’s all legal.

JG says:

Re: Is it about mapping or peeping?

Spying is already illegal – you are not allowed to set a “ground supported” tripod up to video your neighbor either. There is a growing hobby of flying by video (FPV – first person view) that allows people to pilot their RC aircraft via a video camera and a wireless transmitter. This provides flying enthusiasts a way to experience flight without the cost of obtaining a pilots certificate (many thousands of $) as well as an airplane (which are also prohibitively expensive thanks to our government).

This type of legislation is totally unnecessary and outlaws something that’s already illegal – with a net cast wide enough to ensnare regular everyday hobbyists.

Anonymous Coward says:

New Hampshire Decides to fine Civil bureaucracies

New trolling method found! Fine all the bureaucracies
and people in them. Then they pass the bill onto the tax payer.

Since municipalities, city, county, state and federal agencies have been using aerial photography for planning, development of residencies, businesses, roads, waterways for over 60yrs. Much less all the insurance companies, and disaster relief organizations, general contractors. I don’t see this passing, much less withstanding a test of the judicial system.

Anonymous Coward says:

New Hampshire Flattens the State

Just in. New bill submitted in New Hampshire. No building can be over 1 story tall, and roof access to those not allowed. All hills, mountains and valleys to be leveled. State will make sure no one can look over any fences. All pilots must were blindfolds. State warns neighboring states not to build anything tall near the borders.

Anonymous Coward says:

Youtube: Google Glass Commercial – How It Feels That would be a illegal device.

Youtube: Lochleven Luxury Residence by GIS Virtual Making virtual toors to sell homes, show off new buildings would be a crime now.

Youtube: GPS to GIS: Mapping Field Data with ArcGIS Explorer Most mapping software (GIS – Geographic Information Systems) would be illegal.

Photo to 3D Every single cell camera or photo camera on the market would become illegal since it is common to extract 3D coordinates from photos.

Other fields impacted, emergency planning, archeology and so many other things.

I don’t think they thought this thing through.

andrew_duane (profile) says:

More info on Rep. Kurk

Since he’s almost my district in NH, I looked him up on the state legislature website. I found his set of bills sponsored:

In general, it’s a reasonable set of “privacy” related items: pulling SS#’s off court documents, refusing federal ID requirements, etc. This one is just out of left field though. Not sure what he is trying to accomplish.

To send him mail, get to his home page at:

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: More info on Rep. Kurk

Judging by your info and some of the language in the bill it probably was supposed to be an anti-spying on Americans bill. The wording of “drone” and “satellite” would seem to refer to methods the US/Federal Agencies would spy on people.

If that’s the case, this is probably a bill of good intentions, but bad implementation.

Gracey (profile) says:

[where such image is created by or with the assistance of a satellite, drone, or any device that is not supported by the ground.]

So I wonder if a balloon and gondola tethered to the ground fits that description?

Otherwise, Google Maps will be utilizing some really big cranes if they want visuals for the maps.

How taking aerial photos of something is considered a criminal offense is beyond me. It’s okay to stand in the street and take a snapshot of the house, but not okay to do it from the air…hmmmm. A shot of your house front from the street is likely to reveal as much or more than aerial view would.

Machin Shin (profile) says:


So anyone else find themselves wondering, Why would someone with the money to buy themselves a shiny satellite really care about a misdemeanor?

I mean I am sure a guy like Bill Gates is trembling in his boots. His multimillion dollar satellite broke a law and now he has a ticket for $200. Oh no….

Whats more, I’m sure this law will not apply to any government agency. So it is just hypocritical bullshit.

Anonymous Coward says:

How about the poor helicopter pilots/photographers...

Will nobody think of the poor helicopter pilots/photographers who make their living this way???

I don’t know about you, but in our county, around the time of the Annual County Fair, it’s common for helicopter pilots/photographers to go around and take Ariel shots of individual homes, they then go door to door with their digital images trying to sell them to the home owners ($140 was the price last year).

My cousin purchased the one of his property specifically because it had ‘forms identifiable as human beings and man made structures’. It showed the two of us working on putting his pole building garage (just the holes in the ground with the poles sticking out of them in the photo), while our wives sat on the deck in lounge chairs next to the pool. If it hadn’t had the four of us in the photo, he wouldn’t have purchased it.

This law would have resulted in lost sales that the helicopter pilot/photographer would have had to sue the state to get back… I mean that’s what you do when someone prevents you from earning the revenue you think you should get, right, you sue them because you ‘would have made more money if not for the stupid laws passed’….

These guys use cameras, so they must be covered by some **AA somewhere, how come there no meddling industry group of parasitic middlemen pushing back and preventing this law?

Will nobody think of the poor helicopter pilots?

Matthew Cline (profile) says:

in which Barbara Streisand sued a photographer for taking an aerial photograph of her house, as part of a project to photograph the entire California coastline from a helicopter (to study the impact of erosion). It was crazy to think of that as a privacy violation, and the court clearly agreed, siding with the photographer over Streisand.

Wasn’t Streisand’s issue that her house was labelled as being her house, rather than it being anonymous like all the other photos?

special interesting says:

This bill would reduce the intelligence gathering ability of the average citizen and would not increase privacy at all since all the spying the public is worried about is by the government.

Now if this legislation would be modified to NOT restrict any citizens photographic efforts on or off the ground but only be applied to DoD, FBI, DHS, IRS, EPA etc. and that these agencies cannot obtain them from citizens either. Then it would have some teeth and take a bite out of big brother so to speak. Not sure how the state vs. federal law would clash. Hobbling these agencies is what we need do in light of all the weird legislation that the current crop of lawmakers produce. Dreaming about it nice. Doing something would be better.

This law, as written, would also reduce the possible eventual increase of public commons. Increasing the public commons increases the average cultural intelligence of the citizenry.

I once heard that to take any picture from orbit you needed government permission. Once you flew above 100 miles or something like that. Repealed? Searched, no luck.

I think this is a ignorant voter problem of voting for ignorant politicians. Writing bad law makes bad legislation makes for bad things to happen. Want good things to happen. NH voters must be related to IL voters.

My post on Illinois politics: (don’t like to repeat things)

special interesting says:

You are totally right that federal and state laws are different. No contest.

The dream I had for my proposal to revise state legislation on satellite or aerial photographing, in favor of the citizens use and limiting government use, would definitely clash and even contradict federal law but that in itself is a kind of state level civil disobedience that is not unprecedented. Example: the pot drug law now being written to legalize or decriminalized in several states directly clash with federal law.

Using or even abusing drugs is like a LIFESTYLE VIOLATION hurting no one and only possibly themselves. My view is… Don’t waste tax dollars there isn’t any left for extended accommodations of ridiculous mandatory sentencing rules which needs a huge unbiased overhaul with only violent offenders at the top of the list and file sharing not even making an entry. The current drug sentencing is the same a the RIAA and MPA fostering claims of millions of dollars in fines and jail terms for parking ticket or less offenses.

This is kind of off topic but illustrates the an example of the progression of civil to state disobedience leading hopefully to real federal law reform. Good luck as many have given their livelihoods and freedom to such causes.

Note: Drugs are bad for you. Stay away from them.

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