LITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas legislature recently passed a bill which subjects to legal action anyone who gains unauthorized access to another person’s property and records undercover audio or video, among other activities.
The bill, HB 1665, creates a civil cause of action against individuals who:
- Capture or remove the employers data, paper, records, or any other documents and use the information contained on or in the employer’s data, paper, records, or any other documents in a manner that damages the employer;
- Record images or sound occurring within an employer’s commercial property and use the recording in a manner that damages the employer;
- Place on the commercial property an unattended camera or electronic surveillance device and use the unattended camera or electronic surveillance device to record images or data for an unlawful purpose.
In cases where compensatory damages cannot be quantified, courts can award additional damages not to exceed $5,000 for each day a defendant “has acted in violation” of the law.
Animal welfare groups such as The Humane Society of the United States urged Arkansas residents to ask Gov. Asa Hutchinson to veto the bill.
“No farm or dog-breeding operation playing by the rules and treating animals properly has anything to worry about from animal advocates,” HSUS said in a statement on its website. “The Arkansas bill is designed for the delinquent operators, and with the recent USDA action to take down records of Animal Welfare Act inspections, it’s a potentially devastating blow to transparency and animal welfare in our nation.”