Committee Approves Changes To Data Trespass Law

Feb 15, 2016

A Wyoming Senate committee has voted in favor of a bill that is attempting to clarify a controversial data trespass law. 

The law says people are guilty of trespassing if they gather water samples, take pictures, or collect any other type of data on private or so-called open lands without permission. Some argue that “open lands” could refer to public lands or national parks. The new legislation removes the phrase “open lands” from the law and instead says people can’t gather data on private property without permission. 

While Agriculture groups say they support the change, Stephanie Kessler of the Wyoming Outdoor Council worries that there are unintended consequences of the bill.
“That maybe it protects landowners, but it also suppresses actions by citizens who are out on our landscape who care about the stewardship and if they see a spill, or wildlife in distress, or something else going on that they also are not having an additional punishment for somehow documenting that.”

Amy Hendrickson of the Wyoming Woolgrowers Association says her members say the law is working but she’d support the clarification.

“That they are hearing more from people asking for permission. Which not only is a good thing, but it also makes the landowner think about the access they want on their property as well.”

The bill goes to the Senate floor for further debate.