The legislation California Governor Schwarzenegger signed into law recently is widely known to restrict the actions of paparazzi and penalize the organizations that purchase photos taken illegally.

But what is less understood is the strong language the California Legislature used in the wording of the bill. The following are quotes from the text of the new law:

“The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:

Individuals and their families have been harassed and endangered by being persistently followed or chased in a manner that puts them in reasonable fear of bodily injury, and in danger of serious bodily injury or even death, by photographers, videographers, and audio recorders attempting to capture images or other reproductions of their private lives for commercial purposes.

The legitimate privacy interests of individuals and their families have been violated by photographers, videographers, and audio recorders who physically trespass in order to capture images or other reproductions of their private lives for commercial purposes…

Such harassment and trespass threaten not only professional public persons and their families, but also private persons and families for whom personal tragedies or circumstances beyond their control create media interest.

There is no right, under the United States Constitution or the California Constitution, to persistently follow or chase another in a manner that creates a reasonable fear of bodily injury, to trespass, or to constructively trespass through the use of intrusive visual or auditory enhancement devices.

The right to privacy and respect for private lives of individuals and their families must be balanced against the right of the media to gather and report the news. The right of a free press to report details of an individual’s private life must be weighed against the rights of the individual to enjoy liberty and privacy.”

The words carefully chosen by the California Legislature send a strong message that all people have the right to some personal privacy.

In our digital age, as our privacy is being assaulted on all sides through the mistaken release of medical records, identity theft, personal information and photographs being displayed on social networking sites without permission and the explosion of celebrity websites and blogs, California’s elected officials have made it clear that it is vital to protect the personal privacy and safety of everyone.

Sean Burke is the Founder of The PAPARAZZI Reform Initiative

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