The bill passed 66-27. Next the bill goes to the Senate for final approval, then to the desk of the Iowa's governor, Terry Branstad, to be signed into law. (Source) According to the Iowa Independent, the bill
would specifically target individuals who approach crop or animal facilities — excluding animal shelters, pet shops and commercial kennels — for the purpose of making audio or visual recordings. An individual found guilty of creating such a record, or of distributing such a record, could face felony charges and be subject to civil proceedings.
Sadly, Iowa is not alone. Other states are passing legislation imposing stiff penalties on videotaping whistleblowers. In Florida, a similarly draconian piece of legislation was introduced in the state senate. The author of SB 1246, Senator Jim Norman, proposed in his bill
[a] person who photographs, video records, or otherwise produces images or pictorial records, digital or otherwise, at or of a farm or other property where legitimate agriculture operations are being conducted without the written consent of the owner, or an authorized representative of the owner, commits a felony of the first degree. (Source)
There is no question that these bills being introduced across the United States are aimed at scaring away animal rights activists who have gone into factory farms to film the often horrendous treatment of animals in these massive and impersonal facilities. Thanks to developments in digital technology over the past decade, it is easier than ever to smuggle cameras - which are now cheaper than ever - into these massive death houses where the violence and mayhem are occurring.
It is not surprising that elected officials in states heavily dependent on agriculture - backed by powerful factory farming interests - are scrambling to pass laws forbidding undercover video filming. In recent years, documentaries such as Death on a Factory Farm and Earthlings have converted countless individuals over to veganism. In fact, one could argue - as I often have - that these kinds of films are the best recruiting tools out there.
Film footage doesn't lie. Paul McCartney was right when he said remarked that everybody (or damn near everybody) would be vegetarians if slaughterhouses had glass walls. Somebody very close to me, who was writing an article about a pig slaughtering facility, told me the first question the owners asked her was whether she was a vegetarian or vegan. At the time, she wasn't. Had she said yes, the alarm bells would've gone off and she never would've gotten inside.
That's what makes these anti-whistleblower laws now being introduced before state legislatures so sinister. Take away the right of the people to discover the truth and you've nudged the nation closer to the nightmarish society envisioned by George Orwell in his novel 1984. Orwell understood that the most profound and meaningful power of the state was its ability to sever access to the truth. Joseph Stalin understood this when he airbrushed his opponents out of photographs after he had them murdered. The Nazis understood this when they kept their conference on the "final solution" a secret at Wannsee in January 1942. And those who wish to slaughter animals by the billions, with impunity, also fully grasp this principle.