General Question

Zaku's avatar

What will be the outcome of Illinois making recording the police be a felony?

Asked by Zaku (25007points) December 9th, 2014

I have recently read that the Supreme Court established that it was legal to record the police when they are in public. Apparently this new law in Illinois makes it a felony.

I am interested in what people with legal knowledge have to say about the future of this legislative move. Will it be thrown out by some pre-Supreme-Court process, since there is a recent ruling? Or does this somehow bypass the recent decision, and will need to be challenged by a new case being slowly appealed up to higher courts, with some martyr being held while their case is appealed?

Other comments are ok, but I am mainly interested in what is likely to happen.

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17 Answers

stanleybmanly's avatar

They’ll never get away with it

funkdaddy's avatar

I haven’t read it line for line, but I don’t see anything that says you can’t record the police, and there doesn’t seem to be any additional explanation on the page you linked or on other similar pages other than some amendment was slipped in. I don’t see it.

The bill seems to make it illegal to intercept someone’s private conversation. Most of the mentions of the police seem to be exemptions for times when someone has a warrant or approval for eavesdropping, or when in a police car, the police station, things like that. It looks like it also talks about admissibility.

Recording of police is allowed because they are in public, and there’s no expectation of privacy. The whole bill seems to be regarding records made when one party has a reasonable expectation of privacy. Usually I think that would mean they are in their home, or a private area, bathrooms, changing rooms, etc.

here’s the bill does anyone see anything that would translate to making it illegal to record the police in public?

Zaku's avatar

@funkdaddy Thanks! I’m emailing the web site to get clarification.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Thanks @funkdaddy. It appears that this issue is far more nuanced than the alarmist declaration would have you believe.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

If they can record you then you should be able to record them. Period.

jaytkay's avatar

This isn’t new.

Except for the past 8 months, it has been a felony in Illinois to record ANYBODY without their permission, for a long time.

It wasn’t entirely a bad thing.

If we were having a phone conversation, I had to inform you if I wanted to record it. If a creep is taking video of young girls at the beach, you could tell him to get lost or you would call the cops.

But the law meant that recording ANYBODY was a felony, including recording the police.

I doubt the new law will stand for long.

Here are good links if you want to read more.

March 20 2014 – Illinois Supreme Court strikes down eavesdropping law

December 5 2014 – Illinois General Assembly revives recording ban

Darth_Algar's avatar

I don’t see anything in the text of that bill that indicates it making the recording of police illegal.

Zaku's avatar

So here is a Daily Kos article on the same amendment which links to the same document, and suggests the main issue is that it is too complicated and vague what the law defines as a private conversation, so that some seemingly-public situations might be defined as private and are classed as 2–4 years-in-prison felonies.

I tried reading it again, and I’m certainly confused. It’s hard for me to tell what’s an exception and what’s punishable, and it looks like a huge mess. I’ll write Daily Kos too and ask them for clarification. I still haven’t heard from the other site, but I’ll post if I hear anything more.

ragingloli's avatar

One major result, assuming such a law came into effect, could be that video recordings of police brutality would no longer be admissable as evidence.

jaytkay's avatar

The law is about sound recording. Turn off the sound and you can record the police brutality.

DWW25921's avatar

I suppose it would enable the rancid soulless pigs to be as nasty and violent as they please.

jaytkay's avatar

An Illinois ACLU attorney was on the radio this morning to discuss the bill.

They are not concerned about a potential ban on recording police, due to the lack of a definition of “private conversation”.

Because there is clear case law regarding privacy. And specifically interactions with police are not considered private.

However they are concerned that the law has too many exceptions allowing law enforcement to eavesdrop without a warrant.

Because of these exceptions, they are asking the governor to veto the bill.

Zaku's avatar

Thanks @jaytkay !
(The web sites haven’t replied to my email BTW.)

jaytkay's avatar

Here are excerpts from an ACLU statement.

”...we cannot be arrested or prosecuted under the new statute for recording on-duty government officials who are talking to the public as part of their jobs, because those conversations are not private…on-duty police officers have no reasonable expectation of privacy in their conversations in public places.”

“Unfortunately, compared to the last version of the Illinois eavesdropping statute, the new statute significantly expands the circumstances when police and informants may record and intercept private conversations and phone calls without all-party consent or a warrant…On this basis, the ACLU of Illinois opposed the new statute.”


Zaku's avatar

Super! Thanks!

snowberry's avatar

OK, so am I missing something? News cameras everywhere record people, presumably anonymous people, doing normal stuff all the time. It’s doubtful they get permission before they record them doing every day activities if they are part of a group (such as at a state fair, or a bunch of folks waiting in line for something, etc). So what does the Illinois law say about that?

jaytkay's avatar

@snowberry Recording in public is not prohibited. The law restricts recording private conversations.

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