Posts Tagged 'eavesdropping'

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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Filming Chicago Police OK, Audio Not

NPR did a piece this morning on Chicago artist Chris Drew, who’s made it his mission to make sure the First Amendment works. What started as an act of civil disobedience — Drew is a crusader for free speech and wanted to test laws regarding where artists can sell their work — turned into a felony charge for illegal eavesdropping. It turns out he had recorded his arrest and in Illinois it’s illegal to record conversations without consent of all parties.

The Chicago police union claims, if you can believe this, that recordings like these could inhibit officers from doing their jobs. Or…if they do their jobs professionally and competently, if they happen to be recorded, an audio recording would make absolutely. No. Difference.

“The general theme that drifts through these cases is very clear,” [Illinois ACLU lawyer Harvey] Grossman says. “Law enforcement, in these instances, is rebelling and is refusing to allow public scrutiny of their behavior. And they are using the eavesdropping statute as a weapon against civilians.”

On August 18, the Illinois ACLU filed a federal lawsuit challenging this law.

Story from NPR


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