Opponents say paparazzi bill may hurt newsgathering - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

As celebs seek privacy, opponents say paparazzi bill will hurt newsgathering

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Halle Berry testified in favor of an anti-paparazzi bill. (Source: Wikimedia Commons) Halle Berry testified in favor of an anti-paparazzi bill. (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

(RNN) - Paparazzi chasing down celebrities and their children for a sensational photograph could soon be against the law.

Academy Award-winning actress Halle Berry recently testified in favor of a bill that would restrict the Paparazzi's right to photograph children of celebrities and public figures.

The pregnant actress appeared at the California capitol on June 25 and shared that her own daughter, Nahla, is afraid of "the men" who pay close attention to her and take pictures, according to The Washington Post.

Berry told stories of Paparazzi "besieging the school" her daughter attends, following her on trips to the market and lying in wait at the end of the actress' driveway.

Sen. Kevin De Leon said the bill would "protect children who are particularly vulnerable to harassment, because of their parents' employment," according to Capitol Alert.

The senator said children of celebrities, law enforcement officers and public figures are especially vulnerable to attack.

"If it passes, the quality of my life and my children's lives will be dramatically changed," Berry said.

Senate Bill 660 will expand the definition of harassing children to include actions like "alarming, annoying, tormenting or terrorizing conduct" and will also increase the punishment for those actions.

It would make aggression from photographers and the press, as well as other attacks, illegal when directed at children.

First-time offenders could possibly face 10 days to a year in jail.

According to Access Hollywood, journalism advocates fear the bill will interfere with reporters and photographers gathering news. In an age when everyone with a cell phone has a camera, some say it also potentially puts private citizens at risk of prosecution.

Several Assembly members on the committee shared these concerns, but supported the bill after De Leon promised to add amendments that would clarify reporters' and photographers' First Amendment rights.

Despite opposition from First Amendment groups, the bill passed the committee on a 5-0 vote, and will head to the Assembly Judiciary Committee next.

After the hearing, journalists scurried after Berry, recording her every move until she boarded a private elevator with de Leon, according to Access Hollywood.

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