WTTW's Chicago Tonight program featured a segment about the Illinois Eavesdropping Act, which is currently being contested in the case ACLU v. Alvarez. The lawsuit aims to challenge the application of the Illinois Eavesdropping Act, which prevents Illinois citizens from being able to audio record police conduct in a public place. The segment talks about two Illinoisans facing felony eavesdropping charges as a result of documenting their interactions with police officers using video on their smart phones. Chicago Tonight spoke with ACLU of Illinois' Legal Director Harvey Grossman:
“They don't want to be observed. They don't want to be recorded, they don't want a citizen having the upper hand by having a recording,” Grossman said. “It's he said, he said in most of these instances, but a tape recording changes the chemistry.”
The ACLU unsuccessfully sued the State's Attorney's office to allow eavesdropping of police officers while they're on duty. The case is now before a court of appeals.
"We believe, as much as the press asserts, that there's a right to collect information, gather information,” Grossman said. “We're free to photograph police officers and civilians in their actions, free to listen and take notes. The only thing we can't do is record them with an audio device.”