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If a new Minnesota bill eventually becomes law, anyone caught going undercover to document animal abuses at a factory farm could be sentenced to 5 years in jail. Here's what you need to know about the bill.
It's a Conflict of Interest
The bill was introduced by six Republicans, including Representative Rod Hamilton, the "past president of the Minnesota Pork Producers, and a current member," according to Will Potter, author of Green Is the New Red.
Potter says three components of the bill are especially dangerous to the rights of whistleblowers.
1.) The law would forbid "animal facility interference." Essentially, anyone who produces a recording of an image or sound occuring at an animal facility—or anyone caught possessing or distributing such content—could be charged with a gross misdemeanor. Presumably, that would include anyone who shared a video on YouTube.
2.) The law would prohibit "animal facility tampering," which means taking an animal from the facility. As Potter explains, "That, of course, is already a crime. But those [sic] provision also goes further, and includes 'disrupting' the operations of such a facility." Such vague language, Potter explains, opens opportunites for aggressive prosecutors to abuse the reach of the law to shut down whistleblowers—who would then be charged with a felony.
3.) The law explicitly targets whistleblowers who commit "animal facility fraud." Anyone who intentionally obtains a job at an animal facility with the intent to document abuses could be charged with a gross misdemeanor.