Illinois Recording Law

Note: This page covers information specific to Illinois. For general information concerning the use of recording devices see the Recording Phone Calls, Conversations, Meetings and Hearings section of this guide.

Illinois Wiretapping Law

In People v. Melongo, Docket No. 114852 (Ill. Mar. 20, 2014), the Supreme Court of Illinois held that Illinois' two-party eavesdropping statute, 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/14-1, -2 (scroll down), was unconstitutional on its face. The statute made it a crime to use an "eavesdropping device" to overhear or record a phone call or conversation without the consent of all parties to the conversation, regardless of whether the parties had an expectation of privacy. The Court held that the recording provisions of the statute, as written, adversely affected the First Amendment rights of people making recordings in a substantial number of circumstances where there were no legitimate privacy interests.  The Court further held that a provision of the statute prohibiting the disclosure of recordings likewise ran afoul of the First Amendment.

This does not mean, however, that recording of communications is now universally permitted in Illinois:

  • Recordings may still be subject to the "one-party" consent rule of the Federal wiretap act.
  • Communications reaching other states may be subject to the wiretapping laws of the remote state.
  • Secret recordings may still support an Illinois common-law claim for intrusion into the privacy of another. See, e.g., Narducci v. Village of Bellwood, 444 F. Supp. 2d 924, 938 (N.D. Ill. 2006).
  • Another Illinois statute, not necessarily affected by the decision in the Melongo case, makes it illegal to "videotape, photograph, or film" people without their consent in "a restroom, tanning bed, or tanning salon, locker room, changing room or hotel bedroom." 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/26-4(a) (scroll down).

Consult The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press's Can We Tape?: Illinois for more information on Illinois wiretapping lawyer.

Illinois Law on Recording Court Hearings and Public Meetings

Court Hearings

In Illinois state trial courts, the use of sound and video recording devices is prohibited except by an order of the Illinois Supreme Court. Use of recording devices is permitted in hearings of the state appellate courts, but you must notify the clerk of the court at least five days in advance, and the appellate court may choose to prohibit recording. If media coverage is permitted, only one television and one still camera will be allowed at any given time.

Federal courts in Illinois, both at the trial and appellate level, prohibit the use of sound and video recording devices in the courtroom.

For information on your right of access to court proceedings, please consult the Access to Government Information section of the guide.

Public Meetings

A provision of the Illinois open meetings law states that "any person may record the proceedings at meetings required to be open by this Act by tape, film or other means." The statute goes on, however, to say that the authority holding the meeting shall make "reasonable rules to govern the right to make such recordings." 5 Ill Comp. Stat. 120/2.05 (scroll down).

For information on your right of access to public meetings, please consult the Access to Government Information section of the guide and The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press's Open Government Guide: Illinois.


Last updated on April 28th, 2014

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