SACRAMENTO, California (AP) — Paparazzi and others who harass the children of public figures will face tougher penalties under legislation that California Gov. Jerry Brown signed Tuesday.
The bill sponsored by state Sen. Kevin de Leon will boost penalties for actions that include taking photos and video of a child without consent and in a harassing manner.
Celebrities such as actresses Halle Berry and Jennifer Garner urged lawmakers to support the bill. Berry testified before several legislative committees that her daughter has been intimidated by aggressive photographers who follow them daily, often shouting as they snap pictures.
The measure also will help protect the children of police officers, judges and others, who might be susceptible to harassment or unwanted attention due to their parents' occupations, de Leon said.
"Kids shouldn't be tabloid fodder nor the target of ongoing harassment," de Leon said. He added that the new law "will give children, no matter who their parents are, protection from harassers who go to extremes to turn a buck."
Under the legislation, which goes into effect in January, violators could face up to a year in county jail and a fine of up to $10,000. Fines would increase for subsequent convictions.
The bill also allows for parents to bring a civil action against violators to seek damages and attorney's fees.
Media organizations, including the California Newspaper Publishers Association, opposed the legislation, saying it was overly broad and could restrict legitimate newsgathering activities.
De Leon's office says the bill does not infringe on First Amendment freedom of press rights because it targets the photographer's conduct, not the act of taking a photograph.
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