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May 17, 2012

7th Circuit Holds Cell Phone Videos Are Protected

Chicago_federal_center400Every time a public figure speaks these days, smartphones are there to record the speech.

A key question: Is this legal?

That was the issue addressed last week by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. The case is American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois v. Alvarez, 7th Cir. No. 11-1286 (May 8, 2012).

The court reviewed a challenge to the Illinois eavesdropping statute, which makes it a felony to audio record "all or any part of any conversation" unless all parties to the conversation give their consent, and includes any oral communication regardless of whether the communication was intended to be private.

In Chicago, citizens had started a "police accountability program," which included plans to openly make audiovisual recordings of police officers performing their duties in public places and –- a fact that makes the statute applicable -- speaking at a volume audible to bystanders. When persons involved in the program feared prosecution, the ACLU challenged the eavesdropping statute on First Amendment grounds on their behalf.

The court held that the statute, in these circumstances, violated the First Amendment.

Read the full article on LTN online.

The image is in the public domain

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