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Illinois Eavesdropping Act

Rahm Emanuel 4BY CAROL MARIN cmarin@suntimes.com November 13, 2012 7:40PM

Emanuel downplays eavesdrop act

Mayor Rahm Emanuel, at a Monday news conference, didn’t like questions about whether his press office had recorded reporters’ conversations without first seeking their consent.

That’s a big no-no under the Illinois Eavesdropping Act, one of the toughest two-party consent laws in the country.

One woman, Annabel Melongo, spent 20 months in Cook County Jail before a judge finally freed her.

Her crime: She had recorded a couple of phone calls with a court clerk. We’re talking felony, folks.

Emanuel downplays eavesdrop act

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An Illinois House Committee yesterday approved amendments to the Illinois Eavesdropping Act by a 9-2 vote. At present, if an individual records a member of law enforcement, even in a public setting, without permission, that individual can be arrested and charged with a class 1 felony. The most recent incident in Chicago involving recording police was when a member of Occupy Chicago was livestreaming a protest and was threatened with arrest for doing so.

State Rep. Elaine Nekritz, who is sponsoring House Bill 3944, told CBS Chicago that it’s important to make changes to the act with the May NATO/G8 summits looming. “Thousands of journalists and people are at risk for prosecution,” said Nekritz. While there is an exemption for news broadcasts, the law has yet to catch up to the thousands of citizen journalists and others who witness events, pull out their smart phones, and press record.

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