IL Takes Several Steps Back, Won’t Protect Recording Police

People in Illinois are looking at fifteen years if they audio-record police activity. Or should I say “still looking”? Because the Illinois Eavesdropping Act makes recording someone in public without their consent a felony. Last year the ACLU filed a lawsuit challenging the law, but a few weeks ago Federal Judge Suzanne Conlon dismissed it, saying there is no First Amendment protections there.  

Although law-enforcement officials can legally record civilians in private or public, audio-recording a law-enforcement officer, state’s attorney, assistant state’s attorney, attorney general, assistant attorney general or judge in the performance of his or her duties is a Class 1 felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

As Reason magazine’s Radley Balko writes, unfortunately, “the law is used almost exclusively against people who attempt to record on-duty police officers.”

While absurd, this makes some sort of sense because allowing citizens to record police activity would likely cause all kinds of grief for that very jackbooted state that is known to be very corrupt.

Source: New York Times

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2 Responses to “IL Takes Several Steps Back, Won’t Protect Recording Police”


  1. 1 DT January 24, 2011 at 10:30 am

    I can only hope that the ACLU pushes this all the way to the Supreme Court.

    I’ve noticed that any time I call a business customer service center I get a verbal notice that “this call may be recorded or monitored.” I wonder if that is sufficient to protect someone? What’s the legal situation if the first thing I tell a cop is this: “This encounter is being recorded. By continuing to speak to me you offer your full legal consent to be recorded.” If giving notice is good enough for banks, why not for citizens?

    What about audio witnesses? What happens, for example, if I dial my cell phone to an attorney or a witness and leave the call open, on speakerphone, during an encounter? That’s not recording, but why couldn’t the other person testify in court?

  2. 2 babydiscarted January 24, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    Good points. The ACLU is usually pretty good about challening these things. We’ll see.


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