Oklahoma Working to Pass Bills Making It Illegal to Publish Photos or Videos of Law Enforcement
Oklahoma legislators are working to pass another bill, HB 2273. It's a companion bill to SB 6 which is working it's way through the state senate. Both bills would make it illegal to photograph or video law enforcement and publish it on an online site, forum or social media platform. There's been a lot of confusion and concern with the two bills as you can imagine. So what exactly will the new law do and what are the penalties for violating the law? Also, if this does become law when will it take effect?
Some are saying if this passes you will no longer be able to photo or film law enforcement, that's only partially true. You can photo and video police, but you can't publish it. State legislators are saying this is for officer safety and that photos or videos that contain any personal information or identity shouldn't be posted or published online. Others are saying that this law is just a way for law enforcement to avoid being photographed or videoed while engaged in any type of misconduct. I guess both could be true and the language of the new bills are specific in some areas, and rather vague in others.
HB 2273 and SB 6 have very similar, if not the exact same language. Here's the basics of what the new bills say: "It shall be unlawful for a person, who by telephonic or electronic communication, as defined in Section 1172 of Title 21 of the Oklahoma Statutes, to willfully publish on a public online site or forum, attempt to publish or conspire to publish personally identifiable information of a law enforcement officer with the intent to threaten, intimidate, harass or stalk, and as a result, causes, attempts to cause or would be reasonably expected to cause substantial emotional distress or financial loss to that person, or to that officer's family or household member or intimate partner."
So what does "personally identifiable information" mean? In the bill it's listed as: "Personally identifiable information"shall include, but not be limited to name, birth date, address, telephone number, driver's license number, Social Security number, place of employment, mother's maiden name, or photograph or any other realistic likeness. That's a pretty broad description and could easily be called into question.
So what would happen if you break this law? Well, for the first offense it's a misdemeanor if you violate the law a second time it's a felony charge. There's no clear mention of fines, fees or jail time listed in the current bills. Both SB 6 and HB 2273 have passed their initial steps of becoming law and will be officially voted on in their respective chambers very soon. At this time they've already passed through several committees and if they are fully passed in the House and Senate Gov. Stitt will more than likely sign it into law. If he does the new law would take effect on November 1st 2021 (11-01-21).
If you'd like to read the bills for yourself and get more information on them click here to see House Bill 2273. The companion bill, Senate Bill 6 can be read here. Both are exactly the same and feature the same outline and wording. So what are your thoughts on all this? Should it be illegal to publish video and/or photos of law enforcement online? Take the quick poll below and let us know your thoughts.
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