The internet is full of misinformation about Illinois’ new eavesdropping law. You may have seen that it makes it a crime for citizens to record the police. Actually, that was the case under the old law, which the Illinois Supreme Court struck down this year (in People vs. Melongo and People vs. Clark), says State Sen. Mike Noland (D-Elgin), a sponsor of the new measure.
“Before, it would have been a Class 4 felony for somebody to record a police officer here in the state of Illinois, whether known to the police officer or not. At this point, we are allowing citizens to record law enforcement,” he said.
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The bill passed the Illinois House 106-7 and the Senate 46-4, and it awaits action by the governor. House sponsors were Reps. Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook) and Dennis M. Reboletti (R-Elmhurst).
The basis of the measure, should it become law, is the expectation of privacy – and this applies to everyone, not just police. Under the previous law, recording required the consent of all parties. If this measure becomes law, anyone can record anyone in public. The sponsors say police performing their duties in public have no expectation of privacy and can be recorded, audio and video, and that includes traffic stops. Recording of private conversations, in which at least one participant had an expectation of privacy, will require the consent of all parties.
There is an exception to allow law enforcement to eavesdrop for 24 hours on the say-so of the state’s attorney, if they are investigating serious crimes such as murder, the most heinous sexual assaults, kidnapping, human trafficking and others.
The only other special provision involving law enforcement is that penalties for violating the eavesdropping law are greater if it is law enforcement who are eavesdropped upon, including police officers, the attorney general or an assistant attorney general, a state’s attorney or an assistant state’s attorney, or a judge.