Margot Kaminski writes:
You don’t need a license to beg in New York. But a proposed law would require you to get one if you beg while hiding your face with a costume, makeup or mask.
Inspired by some nasty behavior by Times Square costumed characters, this bill is not actually about regulating nasty behavior at all. It’s about regulating anonymity: the ability to appear in public without being immediately identifiable.
But in this country, your right to anonymity is protected under the First Amendment. It is a vital part of the right to freedom of speech.
Read more on NY Daily News.
As Margot notes, there is a law on the books that prohibits wearing masks in New York, and unfortunately, it was upheld by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. In light of concerns over ISIL now, I suspect there will be even less support for any attempt to overturn the law and restore the right to wear masks as part of anonymous speech.
In 2012, Omer Tene blogged about the masks/anonymous speech issue, and I commented on it here.