Widening the Illinois eavesdropping laws

January 30, 2012

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Some lawmakers want to give Illinois residents the right to record police officers. Illinois has one of the toughest eavesdropping laws in the country. As it stands, police and businesses can record citizens, but citizens can not record them back.

Currently, recording an on-duty police officer, on public property, could mean felony charges and up to 15 years behind bars.

State representative Elaine Nekritz is sponsoring an amendment that would legalize recording police and the companies that record their customer service calls. For instance, the kind of calls with a message along the lines of, "this call may be recorded for quality assurance purposes."

Nekritz said some are against her proposal because they worry recordings can be edited and used improperly.

"Most states don't have this restriction, and we're not hearing lots and lots of reports about the problems that have been created by their lack of this protection," Nekritz said. 

If the amended eavesdropping law passes a committee Tuesday, it will go before the full Illinois House of Representatives for a vote. Nekritz predicts the vote will be close, but she's hopeful that the narrow scope of the amendment will bode well for its passage.

She said even if the proposal becomes law, it likely won't go into effect until after this May's NATO and G-8 summits in Chicago.

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