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Bill That Makes Changes To Illinois Eavesdropping Act Passes Committee

By aaroncynic in News on Feb 9, 2012 5:40PM

Image Credit: Timmy Caldwell

An Illinois House Committee yesterday approved amendments to the Illinois Eavesdropping Act by a 9-2 vote. At present, if an individual records a member of law enforcement, even in a public setting, without permission, that individual can be arrested and charged with a class 1 felony. The most recent incident in Chicago involving recording police was when a member of Occupy Chicago was livestreaming a protest and was threatened with arrest for doing so.

State Rep. Elaine Nekritz, who is sponsoring House Bill 3944, told CBS Chicago that it’s important to make changes to the act with the May NATO/G8 summits looming. “Thousands of journalists and people are at risk for prosecution,” said Nekritz. While there is an exemption for news broadcasts, the law has yet to catch up to the thousands of citizen journalists and others who witness events, pull out their smart phones, and press record.

Several cases are making their way through the courts for various violations of the act. A public defender in Madison County, who has had clients who recorded interactions with police, told the Bellville News Democrat, “It is patently unfair to arrest American citizens for filming their government doing government work in a public place” and that police would “be arresting people for filming the police arresting people.”