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Senate passes Raoul’s fix of eavesdropping law

Posted by Admin On June - 3 - 2014

Legislation reasonably defines which conversations are private

SPRINGFIELD, IL  – Illinois State Senator Kwame Raoul (D-Chicago 13th) brought to the Senate floor a reasonable and carefully crafted eavesdropping measure in response to a recent Supreme Court ruling that invalidated Illinois’ approach to recording conversations. The Senate approved the legislation with broad bipartisan support.

“I feel strongly that it would be irresponsible to adjourn without settling this area of the law and setting commonsense boundaries that respect both freedom and privacy,” Raoul said. “I’ve negotiated this balanced approach with the state’s attorneys, always keeping public safety and privacy rights at the forefront.”

On March 20 of this year, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled that the state’s eavesdropping law was overbroad because it prohibited anyone from recording any conversation without the consent of all parties – even when the conversation took place in public and could be easily heard by bystanders.

Raoul’s rewrite of the eavesdropping law specifies that someone is only guilty of eavesdropping if he or she surreptitiously records or uses an eavesdropping device to listen in on a private conversation. It defines a private conversation as one that at least one of the parties reasonably considers to be private. It also expands the circumstances under which law enforcement can record a conversation between an undercover officer and a suspect or suspects to include not only drug deals but investigations of suspected plots to commit other serious offenses, such as murder, sexual assault and gunrunning.

“Our previous law, which landed honest citizens in prison just for recording an encounter with a police officer on a public sidewalk, didn’t make sense, but the complete absence of an eavesdropping law doesn’t make sense either,” Raoul said. “This legislation would draw a prudent line between public and private conversations, and I would urge my colleagues in the House to work with me to put this distinction into law as soon as possible.”

The House must approve the changes Raoul made in the Senate before the legislation can be signed into law.

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