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New York is challenged over law forcing gun owners to inform government of their social media accounts

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The Knight First Amendment Institute and five gun owners’ associations filed an amicus brief at the US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in support of a lawsuit challenging a provision in New York’s Concealed Carry Improvement Act that would require applicants to provide the government with a list of their social media accounts.

We obtained a copy of the brief for you here.

The amicus brief argues that the requirement would have a chilling effect on the free speech of applicants for concealed carry permits. The law would require them to provide the state government with a list of social media accounts they have used in the last three years, including pseudonymous accounts.

“While New York plainly has a legitimate interest in regulating concealed carry, its regulations must conform to the First Amendment, and this particular provision of New York’s new gun law does not,” said Knight First Amendment Institute’s attorney Anna Diakun. “Not only has the state failed to demonstrate that the social media registration requirement will actually further its goals, but it has also failed to acknowledge its costs: It will have a profound impact on the right to speak anonymously and associate privately online, and it will invite discrimination by licensing officials.”

Aside from affecting freedom of expression and the right to associate freely online, the groups also argue that the provision would affect marginalized communities who already do not trust law enforcement.

“The state’s dragnet social media registration requirement goes far beyond what is necessary, and will set a dangerous precedent for broad intrusions on individuals’ First Amendment rights,” said Katie Fallow, senior counsel at the Knight Institute. “If the New York law is allowed to stand, one can easily imagine the government imposing these requirements in any number of other situations.”

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