Family concerns fuel anti-paparazzi legislation in California

Published: Thursday, Aug. 15 2013 6:00 a.m. MDT

Jennifer Garner

Dan Steinberg, AP

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A-list actresses Jennifer Garner and Halle Berry testified before California lawmakers Wednesday in support of proposed legislation that would limit the ability of paparazzi to photograph children in public.

Garner and Berry said such restrictions are needed to protect children from feelings of confusion and anxiety that can occur when photographers swarm kids.

"I chose a public life and understand that this means sacrifices in terms of privacy for our jobs," Garner said, per the Hollywood Reporter. "In my case this means that I am sometimes photographed. However my three children are private citizens and more than that — at one, four and seven-years-old — they're just little kids."

The Sacramento Bee reported, “Halle Berry, visibly pregnant, told assembly members she was ‘here as a mother who loves her daughter and my baby on the way.’ She complained that photographers are too aggressive in their pursuit of pictures of her daughter. ‘They are allowed to be so close to her that they can shout obscenities to me and ask her questions that are inappropriate for a 5-year-old to have to answer,’ Berry said.”

The legislation in question is Senate Bill 606, which the Los Angeles Times reported “would change the legal definition of harassment to include any conduct that ‘alarms, annoys torments or terrorizes’ a child while photographing or recording that child without express parental consent. The legislation specifically mentions photography that involves ‘following the child's activities or lying in wait’ and targeting a child because of a parent's line of work.”

Not surprisingly, First Amendment arguments are being raised in opposition to SB 606. “Media organizations are concerned the bill will restrict journalists who are conducting legitimate newsgathering activities,” Laura Olson wrote for the Associated Press. “Joe Berry of the California Broadcasters Association said harassment is already illegal. The legislation ‘is overly broad and overly reaches in order to rein in these bad actors,’ he testified.”

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