Illinois Supreme Court Deals Final Blow To State’s Harsh Eavesdropping Law

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Illinois’ Supreme Court declared one of the nation’s toughest eavesdropping laws unconstitutional, saying Thursday that the law was so overly broad that it would technically make the recording of screaming fans at a football game a crime.

The ruling is the final defeat for the Illinois Eavesdropping Act, which had made it a felony for someone to record a conversation unless all parties involved agreed. The 1961 law violates free speech and due process protections, the court decided in unanimous decisions in two related cases focused on audio recordings.

State legislators will now have to draft new rules in a very different privacy environment than existed five decades ago.

“The burden is now on the legislature to craft a statute that actually serves the goal of protecting privacy — and that does so without infringing on the rights of citizens to keep public officials honest,” said Gabe Plotkin, a lawyer for Annabel Melongo, a defendant in one of the two cases.

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