Bill Would Place Strictures on Paparazzi


LOS ANGELES (AllPolitics, Feb. 18) -- Two prominent senators are sponsoring legislation that would put curbs on tactics used by the photographers known as paparazzi if their photos are intended for sale.

But critics warn that the bill, called the Personal Privacy Protection Act, would criminalize constitutionally protected activities.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, plan this month to introduce the bill that would target the photographers known for chasing celebrities such as the late Princess Diana. She was killed last August in an automobile accident in Paris while photographers chased her car.

In a press conference at the Screen Actors Guild, Feinstein said the bill would halt "abuses, threatening behavior by some who do not respect where the line is between what is public and what is private."

"Frankly, I doubt the law will be often used, but it will have a prophylactic effect," Hatch said.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein   

Actor Paul Reiser, who attended the gathering, said: "There is an environment of the hunter and the hunted. ... Something is out of balance. ... Just because a person makes his living in television does not mean he forfeits all rights to privacy."

Sen. Orrin Hatch   

The proposal would forbid "persistently following or chasing a person in a manner that causes them to have a reasonable fear of bodily injury." Also, it would define trespassing to include the use of zoom lenses and other devices used for photographic enhancement.

If the use of such technology produced pictures that could otherwise not have been taken, it would be grounds for a civil lawsuit.

Penalties for violators would include a year in federal person, at least five years if someone is injured and at least 20 years if someone dies.

Ramona Ripston, the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, said: "Those who benefit from a free press must be willing to give it breathing room. Only that way can the First Amendment survive."

Critics also say the bill is unnecessary because there are already laws against trespassing, stalking and reckless driving.

In Other News

Wednesday February 18, 1998

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Jones' Lawyers Respond To Dismissal Motion
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White House Scandal At A Glance
Bill Would Place Strictures on Paparazzi

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