In response to repeated stories of Americans being abused by police and government authorities for exercising their constitutional rights to take photographs in public places, Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas) introduced legislation to strengthen photographers’ rights. It was among his last acts as a congressman.

Stockman’s Ansel Adams Act, named for a famed American landscape photographer, would mostly serve to reassert rights that are already constitutionally protected, such as taking pictures in national parks and other public areas and of subjects including government buildings and public employees. In recent years, photographers have increasingly complained of a disturbing trend of regulations at all levels of government seeking to limit such photography.

From the bill:

In recent years, photographers on Federal lands and spaces have been threatened with seizure and forfeiture of photographic equipment and memory cards, and have been arrested or threatened with arrest for merely recording what the eye can see from public spaces.

Even in the absence of laws or regulations, Federal law enforcement officers, other government personnel, and private contractors have been instructed to prohibit photography from public spaces, and threatened photographers with arrest or seizure of photographic equipment.

Arresting photographers, seizing photographic equipment, and requirements to obtain permits, pay fees, or buy insurance policies are abridgments of freedom of speech and of the press.

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