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Privacy Law

Posner Defends Privacy Against Incursions by ‘Snooping’ Reporters and Bloggers

Posted Sep 14, 2011 8:49 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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In oral arguments on Tuesday, federal appeals Judge Richard Posner saw some valid reasons to uphold an Illinois law barring audio recordings of police officers.

Posner spoke in an appeal by the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. The law allows video recordings of police in public, but not audio recordings.

“If you permit the audio recordings, they’ll be a lot more eavesdropping,” Posner said. “There’s going to be a lot of this snooping around by reporters and bloggers. … Yes, it’s a bad thing. There is such a thing as privacy.”

The ACLU is seeking an injunction to bar prosecutions for its recording of police as part of a monitoring program, according to the group’s website. Any ACLU official convicted under the statute could face up to 15 years in prison. The group claims a First Amendment right to make the audio recordings.

Posner said gang members interested in monitoring each other would “rejoice” in the ACLU’s position because they could justify their recordings by saying they were taping suspected police informants.

The case is ACLU v. Alvarez.

Prior coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "15 Years for Recording a Talk with Cops? Woman Avoids Prison with Acquittal"

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