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California Senate acts to protect celebrities' children from paparazzi

September 06, 2013|By Patrick McGreevy
  • Actress Jennifer Garner, right, describes to the Assembly Judiciary Committee how paparazzi aggressively follow her and her three children. Actress Halle Berry also urged lawmakers to approve the bill.
Actress Jennifer Garner, right, describes to the Assembly Judiciary Committee… (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated…)

SACRAMENTO - The state Senate on Friday sent a bill to the governor that would put new limits on paparazzi to protect the children of celebrities and public officials from harassment.

Actresses Halle Berry and Jennifer Garner had testified recently to lawmakers in favor of the bill, saying they are afraid to take their children out into the public because of swarms of intrusive photographers.

“This measure aims to protect children who are particularly vulnerable  to harassment because of their parents’ employment by increasing the penalties for intentional harassment of a child,” Sen. Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) told his colleagues.

De Leon introduced SB 606, which makes it a misdemeanor to attempt to record a child’s image in a harassing manner because of the employment of a child’s parent.

The bill increases the penalty for such forms of child harassment from up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine to up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.

The measure was opposed by media groups including the California Broadcasters Assn. and California Newspapers Publishers Assn.

The latter group wrote to lawmakers that “the  increased penalties and liabilities improperly abridge First  Amendment protected newsgathering activity that occurs in public places where a person normally has no reasonable expectation of privacy." 

Nobody spoke against the measure on the Senate floor, it was approved in a bipartisan vote of 36-0 and heads to Gov. Jerry Brown for consideration.

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patrick.mcgreevy@latimes.com

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