Wheeler Asks Residents to be Cautious Concerning Misinformation about Eavesdropping Bill

CRYSTAL LAKE – Representative Barbara Wheeler (R-Crystal Lake) has sought to alleviate the concerns of many residents following a number of misleading media pieces concerning Senate Bill 1342. SB 1342 pertains to surreptitious recording of private conversations and seeks to protect all citizens from having private conversations recorded and made public without their consent.

“I think it’s fair to say we should all be very concerned about the prospect of our freedom of speech being infringed upon,” said Wheeler. “Unfortunately, a great deal of misinformation is being circulated right now that it’s a crime to record the police. This is simply not true; in fact SB 1342 ensures each and every one of us is protected from someone else secretly recording a conversation we think is private.”

Senate Bill 1342 was passed by both houses of the state legislature and is now on its way to Governor Quinn for consideration. It specifically criminalizes secretly recording “private conversations” between two or more people, where at least one has a “reasonable expectation” of privacy. The proposed law does not make it illegal to record police interactions in public, it actually makes it clear that such recordings are legal. The new bill attempts to protect people from surreptitious and improper recording of their conversations to protect their right to a reasonable expectation of privacy.

In March, the Illinois Supreme Court struck down an eavesdropping law that would make it a felony to record audio of police officers working in public. The court ruled that no state could make it illegal to record conversations where there was no “reasonable expectation of privacy,” highlighting the potential for infringement upon the freedom the speech.

“I want to make it very clear for everyone concerned about this that citizens can always record the actions of police in public, and if you suspect something illegal is going on, you should record it,” said Wheeler. “What we don’t want to happen in this day and age of constant transmission of information due to new technologies, is to have our private conversations and interactions made public as a means of slander, or anything of that nature.”

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