It’s not a crime to record cops, Supreme Court decides

Chicago Tribune
The U.S. Supreme Court Monday left in place a lower court ruling that prevented Illinois from prosecuting people under its Eavesdropping Act if they recorded police officers. A federal appeals court ruled the statute “likely violates” First Amendment rights.

Alissa Groeninger sketched out the law’s peculiarities earlier this year:

In Illinois, citizens used to whipping out a cellphone and recording almost anything at any time are confronted by peculiar circumstances if they record police. People can legally record video — but not audio — of law enforcement officers on duty. Get found guilty and face a prison term of up to 15 years, though judges and juries have been reluctant to convict people charged with recording audio of police.

The ACLU was pleased with the ruling:

The ACLU of Illinois continues to believe that in order to make the rights of free expression and petition effective, individuals and organizations must be able to freely gather and record information about the conduct of government and their agents – especially the police.  The advent and widespread accessibility of new technologies make the recording and dissemination of pictures and sound inexpensive, efficient and easy to accomplish.

Related: Miami photographer found not guilty of resisting arrest after videotaping police | Photojournalist sues cop, Suffolk County, N.Y., over right to videotape police | Memphis police delete pictures from photographer’s phone (ABC 24) | How journalists can protect themselves & the news they’ve gathered if arrested on the job

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  • fjpoblam

    If the government can so easily access the properties of my phone without or, especially with, a warrant, then surely they must not object to my recording (even without announcement) the actions of a government official (e.g., law enforcement official) with that same machinery. This would be especially important in my locale where, recently and frequently, folks have been detained by criminals quite well disguised as law officers – cars, uniforms, creds, and all.