Illinois Law Criminalizing the Recording of Police Activity Comes to an End after 51 Years

Wednesday, January 09, 2013
Officer giving a citation to a driver. Police on active duty can now be recorded by citizens of Illinois. Photo Credit: Seth Perlman, AP


It is no longer illegal for Illinois residents to record police officers on duty, now that a longstanding law has been nullified by the courts.


Since 1961, state law prohibited the audio taping of law enforcement without their consent, except for cases involving the media. Citizens caught violating the law were subject to a felony conviction and 15 years in prison.


The American Civil Liberties Union challenged the statute in 2010, claiming it was necessary for individuals to record instances of police abuse without fear of being thrown in jail.


The case eventually made its way to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, where justices ruled the law violated the First Amendment.


Illinois appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, which refused to consider the ruling. This essentially left the state with no further recourse, and the law unenforceable.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

Recording Cops Is No Longer Illegal in Illinois (by Joseph Celentino, Courthouse News Service)

U.S. Justices Take a Poke at Illinois Eavesdropping Act (by Michael Tarm, Associated Press)

U.S. District Court Order (pdf)

Why are Americans Arrested for Videotaping Police in Public Places? (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Should Citizens Go to Prison for Filming Police Misconduct? (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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