Saturday, March 03, 2012

Judge strikes down Illinois eavesdropping law

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Watching the watchers

It’s long been maintained that the right to record police officers on duty in public is a fundamental aspect of common law, despite cops’ continuous attempts to undermine it, usually in the form of stolen property eventually returned with “accidentally” deleted footage, or else by having dangerously broad and vague “eavesdropping” laws passed that never do as much good as harm. Illinois has one such law – or rather, had, as a judge has now seen fit to put an end to it:

A Cook County judge today ruled the state’s controversial eavesdropping law unconstitutional.

The law makes it a felony offense to make audio recordings of police officers without their consent even when they’re performing their public duties.

Judge Stanley Sacks, who is assigned to the Criminal Courts Building, found the eavesdropping law unconstitutional because it potentially criminalizes “wholly innocent conduct.”

The only real way to ensure both that officers are held accountable for their actions, and to affirmatively settle matters of dispute in court, is to allow citizens to watch the watchers while they’re on public duty. Too many places are trying (wrong-mindedly and often illegally) to curtail this evident and basic right of the common people to keep tabs on those who are supposedly keeping tabs on them. Kudos to Judge Sacks for bringing a little more fairness to the Chicago area.

(via The Agitator)