There’s no crime, no unconstitutional prior restraint on taking pictures or making videos, and no deadlines for turning over evidence of animal cruelty. Indeed, the elements that raise constitutional questions about some state “ag-gag” laws are not even found in the North Carolina bill now on Gov. Pat McCrory’s desk Animal activists are still vigorously opposing North Carolina House Bill 405 by calling it an “ag-gag” bill, but it is not like those “ag-gag” laws that were passed either in the early 1990s or since 2010. Instead of criminal statutes, the North Carolina bill simply allows for recovery of damages for inference with property rights as another cause of action in a civil lawsuit. north-carolina-406The “right of action” under HB 405 would allow for the recovery of damages from any person, including an employee, who enters the non-public areas of an employer’s premises to capture data, paper, records or any other breach without authorization. This would include placing unattended cameras or electronic surveillance devices on the premises without authorization. Civil damages of up to $5,000 for every day the violation continues are permitted under the bill’s proposed new cause of civil litigation. Four recently adopted state “ag-gag” laws — in Idaho, Iowa, Missouri and Utah — are based in criminal law. Two of those (Idaho and Utah) are being challenged in federal courts over alleged violations of criminal law. North Carolina’s turn to civil litigation is an entirely new twist by animal agriculture, which wants to keep prying eyes away from operations on private property. Animal activists, led by the Humane Society of the United States, have mounted a campaign to persuade McCrory to veto HB 405, which was overwhelmingly approved by the North Carolina General Assembly. “The poultry industry and its lobbyists at the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce and the Farm Bureau are doing everything they can to stop future exposes of factory farming cruelty,” states an HSUS call to action. It says HB 405 “is an ag-gag bill aimed at intimidating whistleblowers who document animal abuse, food safety violations and other crimes in industrial agriculture.” McCrory could  decide  to sign HB 405 because of  the North Carolina Animal Agriculture Coalition, representing 79,300 jobs and about $17.4 billion in economic output. If McCrory signs the bill, it would be far from the first time that civil law was used to ensure privacy. Employee non-disclosure agreements kept the late pop singer Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch shrouded in secrecy for years. As for the constitutional challenges to the criminally based laws, a federal judge in Boise is expected to soon render a decision on the Idaho law. A challenge to Utah’s law is scheduled for trial in the third quarter of 2016. Editor’s Note: The language in this article was corrected because the North Carolina Animal Agriculture Coalition  does not lobby or attempt to influence policy.