On Twitter, it started with circulating the headline of an article published on The Free Thought Project titled “Illinois Just Made it a Felony for Its Citizens to Record the Police and the Media is Silent.” The article claimed that Illinois passed a law making it a felony to record police officers. That is not factual. The emotional state of many Americans with the thought that a law prohibits the video recording of police officers using excessive force, was at the forefront of the headline that misrepresents the amended Illinois law.
Snopes has already printed about the apparent confusion of the law, which isn’t a new law at all but rather, an amendment to an existing law and does not prohibit the recording of on-duty police officers.
The Free Thought article states that the wording from the legislation is vague, and it included the following;
(a) Eavesdropping, for a first offense, is a Class 4 felony (from Ch. 38, par. 14-4) and, for a second or subsequent offense, is a Class 3 felony.
(b) The eavesdropping of an oral conversation or an electronic communication of 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 3 felony, and for a second or subsequent offenses, is a Class 2 felony.
Had readers clicked the link to the Bill, they would have read two words that should have stood out. Those two words are;
When I read the first tweet reporting this, (and expressing disgust that Illinois would legislate such a law), I didn’t respond. I didn’t respond because my first impression that anyone reading the word “eavesdropping” would understand its meaning. I was wrong, not taking into consideration that people passing the tweet around are not residents of Illinois understanding how “eavesdropping” is defined in Illinois law. Read the rest of this entry