Using Drones To Soar Above 'Ag-Gag' Laws

from the we-have-the-technology dept

Back in March, we wrote about Idaho's new "ag-gag" law that made it illegal to expose animal cruelty on factory farms and slaughterhouses in that state. The post quoted a couple of stories by Will Potter on his "Green is the New Red" Web site. @AbbyMartin tweets that Potter now wants to expose factory farm horrors without breaking those ag-gag laws by using a Kickstarter project to fund aerial photography carried out by drones:

The latest trend is that the agriculture industry is even trying to ban photographs of farms taken from the air. It is unlikely that aerial photography can document animal abuse, but these industries are clearly concerned. So what are factory farms trying to hide? Will a drone allow us to see the scope of pollution caused by these industrial operations? I'm going to find out...
As Potter notes, it's not clear what evidence of animal abuse a drone will be able to gather, but it's both an interesting attempt to circumvent ag-gag laws that seem to have no rationale other than covering up abuses, and another example of drones being used in innovative -- and peaceful -- ways.

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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 11 Jun 2014 @ 6:58pm

    Cliche if not outright wrong most of the time but...

    ... every so often the phrase 'If you've done nothing wrong, you've got nothing to hide' does seem to fit, and alongside the other laws prohibiting people from exposing animal abuse at places like that, purely to protect the businesses, if they're trying to ban aerial pics as well, then I'd say there's pretty good odds they do have 'something to hide', and know it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    zip, 11 Jun 2014 @ 8:58pm

    wisdom of publicizing an upcoming spy mission

    It would seem to me that the publicity surrounding this campaign, while it certainly doesn't hurt fund raising, stands to diminish the effectiveness of the spy mission.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    David Cortright (profile), 11 Jun 2014 @ 10:02pm

    Are drones really the best tech to solve this problem?

    I think drones—while certainly valuable in some instances—are too often put forth as a panacea for so many problems. There are other methods to solve this problem that are simpler, cheaper, and more effective.

    The easiest thing to do is get a massive telescopic lens, a parabolic mic, and a good vantage just outside the property.

    Or how about accompanying any government employee that goes out to the facility to inspect, and video recording that? It is not against the law to record a government official acting in their official capacity.

    And the third method is the simplest: ignore the law. Do the recording anyway but launder the recorder through various middle men. Post the video to servers outside the state/country. If they are abusing animals, then there is a moral duty that stands above the self-serving special interests fueled laws that happen to be temporarily on the books today.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Michael, 12 Jun 2014 @ 5:06am

    How about getting a new AG that isn't an asshat that is bought and paid for by the slaughterhouses.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 12 Jun 2014 @ 6:33am


    the amount of stupid in our laws and politics is truly staggering.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    limbodog (profile), 12 Jun 2014 @ 7:47am

    So the animal rights activists and the agribusiness industry are soon to start an air/anti-air campaign?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    bob, 12 Jun 2014 @ 8:32am

    ag-gag and the 1st amendment

    how is a law that makes it "illegal to expose [actions].." pass first amendment muster?
    that seems like a pretty clear first amendment case of freedom of speech. sure, you may get nabbed for trespassing. but if the federal govt can't ban the NY times from printing NSA super secret information, how can a state ban someone from revealing or printing facts, photos, and testimonials?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Stevan Harnad, 12 Jun 2014 @ 4:47pm

    Please join June 14 world march against slaughterhouses

    * *

    There is no suffering that we inflict on animals that we do not inflict on humans.

    But the vast difference is that the suffering we inflict on humans is seen as wrong by most decent people worldwide -- and it is also against the law.

    Not so for animals. They are not protected by the law and most of us are not only unaware of their agony in slaughterhouses but we are actively sustaining it as consumers.

    Most of us believe (1) that meat is obtained humanely, and (2) that it is necessary for our survival and health.

    Both of these beliefs are profoundly, tragically and demonstrably wrong.

    Reducing and eventually abolishing the gratuitous suffering that humans are inflicting on animals is one of the most urgent moral imperatives of our age.

    The worldwide March Against Slaughterhouses on June 14 2014 is intended to open the eyes and hearts of decent people worldwide
    -- to the enormity of the agony of innocent, helpless creatures in slaughterhouses
    -- to the fact that their suffering is unnecessary, and
    -- to the great urgency of adopting laws to protect them

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Lawrence D’Oliveiro, 12 Jun 2014 @ 8:29pm

      Animal Rights, Animal Responsibilities?

      Humans have rights, but they also have responsibilities to go with those rights. And we enforce those responsibilities by punishing members of our society who do not live up to them.

      If you want to give animals rights, shouldn’t they have responsibilities as well? But how would you make those animals live up to those responsibilities?

      And without such responsibilities, why should they have any rights?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        John Lopez, 13 Jun 2014 @ 2:24pm

        Re: Animal Rights, Animal Responsibilities?

        LOL! are you serious????

        Babies can't give up their rights nor do they have responsibilities.
        Already your argument falls apart miserably....

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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