Berry In Favour of Child Protection Bill
June 27, 2013 – Actress Halle Berry testified in favour of a bill that would make it harder for the paparazzi to photograph celebrities' children on Tuesday in Sacramento, California.
If passed the bill would change the definition of harassment in the state of California to include taking photos or videos of a child without the permission of their parent or guardian. The bill also specifically mentions targeting a child because of their famous parent's job, and waiting around to take photographs of them or following their activities.
If a photographer is charged with breaking this law they could spend between 10 days and one year in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.
The senator that wrote the bill, Kevin de Leon, also hopes that the bill would protect the children of public figures that aren't movie stars, like judges and police officers. The California Police Chiefs Association and the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office support the bill.
A similar law was passed in 1994 to protect children, but it has not been very effective because it didn't have very serious consequences.
"Although [the bill] has been on the books for nearly 20 years, children continue to fall prey to intentional harassment because the law provided for relatively weak penalties," de Leon said. "By setting mandatory minimum terms and authorizing fines of up to $10,000 for repeated violations, [this new bill] will have a significant deterrent effect."
Not everyone thinks that the bill is a good idea though. Jim Ewert, the general counsel for the California Newspaper Publishers Association, said that there are already too many laws preventing journalists from harassing people and that, if passed, this bill could make responsible journalism a crime.
"It's what journalists do," Ewert said. "They take pictures."
The National Press Photographers Association and the California Broadcasters Association are also against the bill.