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    Illinois' New Eavesdropping Law Will Bust Drug Deals That Didn't Even Happen

    Written by

    Brian Anderson

    Features Editor

    It's no news that Illinois has some of the most draconian audio-recording laws in the US, but how's this for heads-I-win, tails-you-lose? Nevermind that recording any conversation, public or private, without the consent of all those involved can get you serious jail time in the Prairie State--authorities there can do the exact same thing, now, thanks to a new eavesdropping law approved by the state Senate that aims to bust up drug deals that didn't even take place.

    Here's the language of HB 4081, effective yesterday:

    Using a listening device to eavesdrop on a conversation between a suspect and an undercover officer in the course of a drug investigation is not a crime when the State's Attorney has determined there is reasonable cause to believe a drug-related offense is about to be committed.

    Now, I'm no constitutional lawyer. Nor am I advocating drug use. What's "reasonable cause," here, is beyond me.  

    But I am from Chicago. So while I think it's not only pretty ridiculous that audio-recording a civilian without consent is a Class 4 felony "punishable by up to three years in prison for a first time offense" (second-time offenders face Class 3 felonies and up to five years in the clink), I can say with relative certainty that, not surprisingly, this new bit of legislation--buried as it is in 17 pages of new Illinois laws--will likely be wielded disproportionately on those lower-income, minority communities across the city's southside.

    Somewhere, a former Illinois senator is maybe (privately) shaking his head. 

    Reach Brian at brian@motherboard.tv. @thebanderson