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Join TSPR for a weekly conversation about media issues. News Director Rich Egger and expert panelists discuss what’s in the news about the news business.

Eavesdropping Law Unconstitutional

The Shop Talk panelists discuss Illinois’ eavesdropping law, which was just declared unconstitutional by the Illinois Supreme Court.

The Associated Press reported the law made it a crime to record conversations unless all parties involved agreed.

The justices found the law was much too broad. For example, it could have been enforced to prevent the audio recording of a public protest unless all the people involved consented.

The Shop Talk panelists applaud the court’s decision. They found the law much too restrictive and the punishment for breaking the law much too severe. Violations were considered felonies punishable by a prison sentence.

Panelist Lisa Kernek pointed out many people now carry devices that can record and they could easily have broken the law without knowing it.  She feels the law should focus on ensuring phone calls cannot be recorded without the consent of everyone involved because the recording device is not in plain sight of everyone.

Panelist Rich Egger concurred and pointed out it’s long been standard practice in radio to ask for permission before recording a phone conversation.

Panelist Jasmine Crighton thinks most people don’t have an expectation of privacy while they’re out in public so journalists should not be restricted while in public to record sound that might include passersby talking.

In their ruling, the Supreme Court justices said a narrower law protecting truly private conversation would be lawful.

Rich is TSPR's News Director.