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The Associated Press reports that the fight over so-called "ag-gag laws," which impose criminal and financial penalties on people who secretly record cases of animal abuse by farmers and livestock producers, is moving to the federal courts, as animal rights activists look to have such laws declared unconstitutional.

According to the story, "Half of U.S. states have attempted to pass so-called ag-gag laws, but only seven have been successful. Among them are Idaho, where this year's law says unauthorized recording is punishable by up to a year in jail and a $5,000 fine, and Utah, whose 2012 law makes it a crime to provide false information to gain access to a farm. Both states now face separate but similarly worded lawsuits that say the measures violate federal statutes offering whistle-blower protections and free-speech guarantees.

"Farm organizations and livestock producers say ag-gag laws are aimed at protecting their homes and businesses from intruders, and some plan to use social media to ensure the public they have nothing to hide. But animal rights groups, free-speech activists and investigative journalists want to throw out the laws because they say the secrecy puts consumers at higher risk of food safety problems and animals at higher risk of abuse."
KC's View:
Ag-gag is one way to characterize these laws. "CYA" is the way I'd describe them.

I've always thought that these laws are an absolute crock. Admittedly, I have a pro-information bias … but it seems reasonable clear to me that these laws are about obscuring and hiding the truth, not exposing it. Do I think all animal activists get it right every time? Of course not. But I firmly subscribe to the sentiment, as best expressed by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, that "sunlight is the best disinfectant."

Ag-gag laws are about shadows and darkness.