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Smart Phone Use a Threat to Your Freedom in Illinois

Chris Drew in his studio. Photo credit: Patrick Boylan

Are Cameras the New Guns? asks a recent story in Gizmodo. According to the story, in Illinois and several other states it is illegal to record any on-duty police officer without consent, even in public where there is no legal “expectation of privacy.”  Whether you feel you are being treated fairly by the police, or fear for your safety, or want to document the process for your defense, you can end up in court for the recording, with all the other charges against you dropped.

The legal justification for arresting the “shooter” rests on existing wiretapping or eavesdropping laws, with statutes against obstructing law enforcement sometimes cited. Illinois, Massachusetts, and Maryland are among the 12 states in which all parties must consent for a recording to be legal unless, as with TV news crews, it is obvious to all that recording is underway… Most all-party-consent states also include an exception for recording in public places where “no expectation of privacy exists” (Illinois does not) but in practice this exception is not being recognized.

via Gizmodo Are Cameras the New Guns?

You can find out more about how this law is playing out in Illinois on Feb. 18th.  Chris Drew, Gregory Koger and their attorneys, Mark Weinberg and Jed Stone will be on hand for a panel discussion on  at 7:00 p.m. at Tom Robinson Gallery, 2416 W. North Ave.

Gregory Koger was arrested and sentenced to 300 days in jail for recording a speaker making a polictical statement with his cell phone. Chris Drew was arrested for having no peddlar’s license, recorded his arrest, and now finds himself in court with the peddling charge dropped, but facing a felony charge for recording his own arrest.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) challenged the Illinois law in October, but the challenge was dismissed. In November, the ACLU filed an amended motion, but Judge Susan Conlon ruled on Jan. 10 that the nonprofit’s argument was unconvincing, noting there is no “right to audio record.” There are complex legal issues surrounding a law such as this one. However, the idea that it is natural, perhaps “a right,” to use the technology at hand in order to document and stand witness in the face of aggression by official and unofficial forces is evident to individuals around the world,  as seen in Egypt, Tunisia, and elsewhere like Albania and Iran. This looks like an example of the disconnect that crops up between legal theory and laws of the 20th century and the realities of the 21st century. The issue may need to be settled by the legislature, and not in the courts.

Imagine how differently the Jon Burge torture affair would have turned out if individuals had the means to report on the actions of public servants on the job. Learn more about the law and the restrictions on how we may or may not use recording technology to defend our rights at the panel discussion.

This free event is sponsored by Chicago Women’s Caucus for Art , The Ad Hoc Committee for Reason , World Can’t Wait — Chicago & Evanston Chapters , and endorsed by the Chicago Coalition Against War and Racism.

Smart Phones and Dumb Laws
Feb. 18th
7 p.m.
Tom Robinson Gallery
2416 W. North Ave.
Chicago IL

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