Back on November 25, 2011, I blogged the following:
In Illinois, it is a class one felony, punishable between four to 15 years in prison, to photograph or video record police officers.
(720 ILCS 5/14‑4)
(from Ch. 38, par. 14‑4)
(a) Eavesdropping, for a first offense, is a Class 4 felony and, for a second or subsequent offense, is a Class 3 felony.
(b) The eavesdropping of an oral conversation or an electronic communication between any law enforcement officer, State's Attorney, Assistant State's Attorney, the Attorney General, Assistant Attorney General, or a judge, while in the performance of his or her official duties, if not authorized by this Article or proper court order, is a Class 1 felony.
How can it be that you or I could be sent to prison for 15 years for the same activity that the police, city and local businesses conduct 24/7? The City of Chicago Office of Emergency Management and Communications operates over 1,500 surveillance cameras watching our every action like “Big Brother” from Orwell’s 1984, but we can’t record a questionable police stop?
Well, it looks like the Chicago Tribune is raising similar questions.
Illinois’ eavesdropping ban was extended in 1994 to include open and obvious audio recording, even if it takes place on a public street where no expectation of privacy exists and in a volume audible to the “unassisted human ear.”
[Defense attorney Joshua] Kutnick said the law makes no sense today, when so many people carry smartphones capable of shooting video and thousands of public and private surveillance cameras are stationed throughout the city.
“There’s no place for it in today’s sophisticated, technological society,” he said. “Now the first thing anybody does (is) pull out the phone, pull out the recorder. Laws should track what’s happening in the world, and this is a perfect example of where it is not keeping up.”
Perhaps the public’s increasing awareness of the absurdity and fundamental unfairness of this law will finally lead our spineless leaders in Springfield to do the right thing and remove this odious statute from the books.