Celebrity parents living in California have good reason to celebrate today.
An anti-paparazzi bill championed by Halle Berry and designed to protect the children of public figures has been signed into law.The bill redefines the term "harassment" and imposes harsher penalties on pesky paps who are charged with harassing children.
Celebrity parents who also supported Bill 606 includeAdele, Jennifer Garner, and Nia Vardalos. The new legislation includes in its definition of harassing behaviour: "...conduct in the course of the actual or attempted recording of children's images and/or voices, without express parental consent, by following their activities or lying in wait."
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The penalties for harassing celebrities’ kids will also be much harsher. Those found guilty could face up to a year in prison, and potential fines will increase tenfold, from $1,000 to $10,000.
“Kids shouldn’t be tabloid fodder nor the target of ongoing harassment,” Sen. Kevin de Leon of Los Angeles said, explaining that the bill "will give children, no matter who their parent is, protection from harassers who go to extremes to turn a buck.”
Halle Berry, who is pregnant with her second child, was understandably thrilled with the new law, expressing her joy in a statement: "It is for all of us that I rejoice today and hope that this fight will continue and that the proper enforcement of this law will truly make a positive impact on the daily lives of all children," she said.
Halle was joined by actress Jennifer Garner, once the victim of a crazed stalker (now in prison) who had targeted her three young children and husband, Ben Affleck. Jennifer also gave emotional testimony in support of the bill in August, which is believed to have swayed legislators.
“How often do we see a tragedy unfold and say, ‘Oh, there were so many warning signs. Why didn’t anybody pay attention?’ ” she said. “I am asking you as a parent to pay attention.”
The law met opposition from the California Newspaper Publishers' Association and the National Press Photographers Association, who expressed concerns over restrictions on gathering news, but the bill only prosecutes those who go to extreme lengths to gather photos, and emphasizes that taking photos in and of itself is not a crime.