The National Press Photographers Association (NPPA), joined by The Motion Picture Association of America, Inc., The American Society of Media Photographers, The Radio Television Digital News Association, and The Society of Professional Journalists, has submitted letters to each of the Texas Senators, expressing extreme opposition to House Bill 912, which has passed the Texas House and is quickly making its way through the Texas Senate.
The bill makes it an offense to capture an image using an unmanned aerial vehicle, (UAV), commonly called “drones,” “with the intent to monitor or conduct surveillance.” This is the core of the offense, but there is no definition regarding what it means to “monitor” or what it means to “conduct surveillance.” NPPA’s attorney Alicia Calzada wrote, “We believe that this bill will create a significant impediment to journalists and others who are engaged in constitutionally protected speech.”
The current version of the bill has no exceptions for first amendment activity. “A journalist (or ordinary citizen) monitoring an environmental spill, documenting the aftermath of a disaster or simply monitoring traffic conditions could easily be committing a crime under this bill,” Calzada explained.
Multiple NPPA members also sent letters of objection. NPPA testified against the bill before a House committee earlier this session.