Illinois Legislation Would Make Recording Police a Felony

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The Grio is reporting that the Illinois House Senate has passed legislation that would make it a crime to record any “private” conversations, especially those involving a police officer.

Critics of the proposed law say that this law has been made in response to the recent cases of police brutality that have been caught on camera and will be used to scare citizens from doing so in the future.

The author writes:

“This law, which is awaiting outgoing Gov. Pat Quinn’s signature should he decide to make the mistake, would forbid people from recording conversations without permission when there is a reasonable expectation of privacy.  Recording conversations with police, an attorney general or assistant attorney general, state’s attorney or assistant state’s attorney or judge would be a class 3 felony, with a sentence of two to four years in prison. Moreover, for reasons that are uncertain except that they really don’t want you to record the cops, illegally taping an ordinary citizen becomes a class 4 felony, with a punishment of one to three years behind bars.”

Sponsors of the bill suggest that the new law will protect people from clandestine and improper recording of their conversations without violating their rights to free-speech. Democratic Rep. Elaine Nekritz, a sponsor of the bill, said:

“The most important thing the bill does is to restore Illinois to a standard that requires everyone in a private conversation to consent to a recording. We satisfy the Supreme Court requirement by limiting that to conversations where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy.”

The Illinois Supreme Court said that police officers do not have an expectation of privacy in public encounters, but have failed to define what is classified as a “public encounter.”

Those in opposition of the bill argue that the law can be used as an argument against police body cameras, since it would make recording outside of public places illegal if people have not consented to the recording in their homes and other private areas.

The bill is currently awaiting the signature of Governor Pat Quinn.

For more information visit The Grio.

This post was written by Reginald Calhoun, editorial assistant for The Burton Wire. He is a junior Mass Media Arts major at Clark Atlanta University. Follow him on Twitter @IRMarsean.

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