A US federal judge has struck down as unconstitutional a 2012 Iowa law that banned undercover recording at agricultural production facilities in the state, saying the law’s primary aim is curbing speech critical of practices at those facilities, reports New Food Economy.

“When the state seeks to regulate protected speech, it bears the heavy burden of showing that the prohibition satisfies constitutional scrutiny,” Senior Judge James Gritzner, of Iowa’s Southern District, wrote in a ruling he handed down Wednesday, January 9. “Defendants have not met their burden.”

Iowa’s law prohibited anyone from working undercover at an agricultural production facility to record how animals are treated or crops are treated or modified. Supporters of the law said it was needed to keep activists from trespassing on private property and to protect facilities from potential health risks outsiders could bring with them.

Critics said it kept activists, reporters and other citizens who wanted to expose unhealthy conditions for animals from learning about those conditions and reporting them.reports

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