Feb 072012
 
 February 7, 2012  Laws, Surveillance, U.S.

Associated Press reports:

Tiawanda Moore didn’t think she was doing anything wrong when she took out her smartphone and started recording a conversation with two Chicago police officers she says were trying to stop her from filing a sexual harassment complaint against one of their colleagues two years ago.

Moore was promptly arrested and charged with violating a strict Illinois eavesdropping law that bars audio recordings unless all involved parties agree to it. Moore, then 20, spent more than two weeks in jail and faced up to 15 years in prison.

[…]

Some state legislators say it’s time to rewrite the law, which faces state and federal challenges. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has asked the state Supreme Court to address whether it is constitutional.

Lawmakers want to include an exception that allows people to record police as they are doing their jobs.

Read more on CBS News.

If the police have no reasonable expectation of privacy in the performance of their public duties, then I’m not sure why it requires an exception to permit the public to make such recordings. It seems to me that it should be more a matter of just recognizing that the citizenry has a right to do rather than creating a right and revoking any state laws to the contrary. But the police, it seems, want a tit for tat:

The Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police doesn’t necessarily oppose a change to let people record police activity, but it wants changes of their own, said the group’s lobbyist, Laimutis Nargelenas.

“We’ve been pushing to get one-party consent,” Nargelenas said. “If people want to record the police, that’s fine, but we want to be able to record them, too.”

Well, no. Although there is a reduced expectation of privacy in public, it would not be okay for police to install boom mics surreptitiously on every street to record people in their conversations with others.

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