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Article posted May 10 2012, 5:42 PM Category: Resistance Source: Ars Technica Print

Court blocks Illinois law used to charge those who video police officers


The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has ruled that the First Amendment protects the right of private citizens to record the actions of police while they are performing their duties in public places. The decision resulted from a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois against the state's unusually broad eavesdropping statute. It criminalizes all audio recordings made without the consent of the parties involved, even of public officials in public places.

"The act of making an audio or audiovisual recording is necessarily included within the First Amendmentís guarantee of speech and press rights as a corollary of the right to disseminate the resulting recording," wrote the two-judge majority in a Tuesday decision. The Illinois statute "interferes with the gathering and dissemination of information about government officials performing their duties in public. Any way you look at it, the eavesdropping statute burdens speech and press rights and is subject to heightened First Amendment scrutiny."

But Judge Richard Posner disagreed with his colleagues. Posner is the judge who raised concerns in oral arguments that striking down the statute would lead to more "snooping around by reporters and bloggers."

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