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Federal appeals court: Illinois cannot enforce ban on recording police officers

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A federal appeals court on Tuesday barred the enforcement of a controversial law that allowed for the arrest and prosecution of individuals who made audio recordings of police officers without their consent.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled that the Illinois’ Eavesdropping Act “likely violates” the First Amendment, according to the Associated Press.

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“The Illinois eavesdropping statute restricts far more speech than necessary to protect legitimate privacy interests; as applied to the facts alleged here, it likely violates the First Amendment’s free speech and free-press guarantees,” the court held (PDF).

The American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois challenged the law in 2010 on behalf of organizations that wished to monitor police activity to uncover misconduct.

“The Court of Appeals today reversed the trial court and ordered that the court enter a preliminary injunction enjoining States Attorney Anita Alvarez from prosecuting the ACLU and its employees for openly audio recording police officers performing their public duty,” ACLU legal director Harvey Grossman explained. “In order to make the rights of free expression and petition effective, individuals and organizations must be able to freely gather and record information about the conduct of government and their agents – especially the police.”

“Empowering individuals and organizations in this fashion will ensure additional transparency and oversight of police across the State,” he added.

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The eavesdropping law makes it a crime to record “any oral communication between 2 or more persons regardless of whether one or more of the parties intended their communication to be of a private nature under circumstances justifying that expectation.” The law exempts recordings made for law enforcement purposes and recordings made for “broadcast by radio, television, or otherwise.”

However, the law prohibited anyone who wasn’t a member of the media or law enforcement from recording police officers. Last year, an Illinois man faced a felony and up to 15 years in prison for recording a traffic stop using his cell phone. The charges against him were later dropped.

“I’m in a private car on a public street and it’s a public official,” Louis Frobe told ABC7. “Why shouldn’t I be able to record what’s going on to prove my innocence?”

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[Woman recording police via arindambanerjee / Shutterstock.com]

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

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‘Manic, unhinged and unnerving’: MSNBC host warns that Trump’s erratic behavior has ‘crossed the threshold’

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MSNBC guest host John Heilemann warned on Thursday that President Donald Trump’s behavior has been “manic, unhinged, and unnerving” in recent days — and some fear it will only get worse.

Heilemann was filling in for Nicolle Wallace on “Deadline: White House.”

He noted at the top of the show that Trump’s behavior has driven a consensus this week that he’s even less even-keeled than usual — which is saying a lot.

“The world is reeling and offering a collective judgment of O-M-G and W-T-F,” Heilmann said. He then played a clip of Trump’s bizarre, belligerent, and blatantly racist comments. He claimed that “no one can be trusted,” that Jews who vote for Democrats are “disloyal,” and that he is “the Chosen One.”

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Texas governor busted sending racist call-to-arms a day before El Paso attack: ‘take matters into our own hands’

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On Thursday, Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX) tweeted out a message of unity and promised to work to reduce violence in his state, in the wake of the shooting in El Paso that left 22 dead and dozens more injured:

Today we had hearings responding to the tragic shooting in El Paso.

We focused on community healing, combating domestic terrorism, reducing hateful ideologies, & keeping guns out of hands of deranged killers while respecting 2nd Amendment rights.

We’ll keep TX safe.#txlege pic.twitter.com/ymct4aiSgK

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Facebook bans far-right website from pro-Trump advertising after they try to skirt transparency rules

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On Thursday, NBC News reported that Facebook has banned the Epoch Times from placing political advertisements, after the right-wing website tried to conceal its multimillion-dollar dark money streams and get around the social network's political advertising transparency rules in its propaganda supporting President Donald Trump.

The Epoch Times had tried to skirt rules by running ads under puppet names like "Honest Paper" and "Pure American Journalism," confusing users about who was really behind the ads.

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