Ignore the Clickbait: You Can Still Record Illinois Police in Public
There’s been lots of handwringing and conflicting information about the amendment to IL Senate Bill 1342 today, which amends Illinois wiretap law following the March 2014 Illinois Supreme Court decision striking down existing law as unconstitutional. And simply put, most of the information about this new bill that has been polluting Facebook feeds and your favorite blogs is inflammatory, reckless, and wrong.
To state it plainly: the bill that passed the IL Senate and House does not criminalize recording police officers doing their duties in public. Nowhere in the language of the bill—here, read it—is any such prohibition articulated. What the law does do is prohibit the surreptitious recording of private conversations without the consent of all parties, as the law it replaced similarly did. This all-party consent requirement is harsher than requirements set by federal and many other state wiretap laws, which often require the consent of only one party to a conversation, but it’s nothing new and most importantly doesn’t criminalize activists’ and others’ recording police in public. If it did that, which it doesn’t, it would be struck down by a court (again) if challenged.
The ACLU of Illinois has a statement on the new bill, which affirms that yes, you can record police in public. The ACLU of Illinois, whose earlier successful challenges to Illinois eavesdropping law won an affirmation of the public’s right to make audio recordings of police in public, offered a mixed review of the bill on the whole.
There’s lots to be said about this bill’s implications for electronic privacy and wiretap law in general but for the time being, don’t believe the clickbait—it is still your right to record police in public.