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ACLU Challenges Eavesdropping Law

By Sean Stillmaker in News on Aug 21, 2010 4:00PM

In December 2009 Chicago artist Chris Drew set out to break Chicago’s anti-peddling law. He wired himself to audio record the arrest, and when the police found out he was also given a felony eavesdropping charge. Under Illinois law it is illegal for anyone to audio/visually record anything in public or private without all involved parties consenting. Charges of eavesdropping have been increasing lately, most frequently involving citizens recording police officers doing their job.

However, police squad cars are equipped with cameras that are mandated to record continuously during an officer’s tour of duty. “It’s an unfair and destructive double standard,” a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois told the Tribune. On Wednesday the ACLU filed a federal lawsuit challenging the Illinois Eavesdropping Act, on the basis that the act violates First Amendment rights. Currently there are 12 states that require the consent of all participating parties. Chicago’s president of the Fraternal Order of Police, Mark Donahue, told the Trib that the "state's eavesdropping law is a good one. Allowing people to record arrests, 'could potentially inhibit an officer from proactively doing his job.'"