Tuesday
Feb252014

The Paparazzi Reform Initiative Supports Kristen Bell's NoKidPolicy

For years The Paparazzi Reform Initiative has been working with others to raise awareness about the issue of the children of celebrities being harassed and exposed by the paparazzi and news media without parental consent.  We applaud and support the work of Kristen Bell and her husband, Dax Shepard, for working with media outlets in adopting their NoKidsPolicy of not using the images of the children of celebrities without consent.

Friday
Jan102014

Why we support California Assembly Bill 1356 to strengthen California's Civil Stalking Law

The Honorable Bob Wieckowski
Chair, Assembly Judiciary Committee
State Capitol, Room 4016
Sacramento, CA 95814
Fax: (916) 319-2125             

Dear Assemblymember Wieckowski: 

            On behalf of the Paparazzi Reform Initiative, Inc. (“PRI”), we respectfully write in resounding support of AB 1356 – a bill amending California’s civil stalking law to provide much needed protections for those placed in serious emotional distress by unauthorized and overt surveillance. This bill reflects a growing trend among a majority of the United States to recognize substantial emotional distress as a valid harm against which stalking laws should protect, and unauthorized surveillance as an activity from which individuals should be shielded. The PRI applauds and welcomes the updates provided in AB 1356. 

            Currently, California’s stalking law can only be used if, in essence, a victim or victim’s family is placed in fear of bodily harm. This requirement has created a bizarre environment wherein routinely stalked and emotionally distressed individuals are powerless to prevent systematic torment from obsessive predators unless the predator acts with the intent to cause fear of bodily harm in the victim. The dangerous proximity to danger in which the current iteration of California’s stalking law requires stalking victims to be placed is not only highly dangerous, but legally sanctions a wide array of conduct aimed at creating severe emotional distress in stalking victims. 

    Oftentimes, a stalker cannot be legally restrained unless and until a weapon is brandished, or a serious and provable threat of bodily harm is issued to the victim. The law is thus slow to intervene at a point where mental anguish can be lessened, fear abated, and traumatic psychological harm reduced. This is an unacceptable status quo, and does not reflect the majority of states that find judicial intervention to stop stalkers at an earlier point in time appropriate. 

            AB 1356 wisely recognizes the importance of enabling victims of stalking to confront their pursuers before it’s simply too late. It empowers victims and others to address serious psychologically traumatic catalysts before irreversible mental harm is imparted. It permits victims and loved ones to lawfully act, rather than make the false choice of permitting loved one’s to suffer continuing trauma or engage in self-help.

            PRI thanks you for considering this bill and taking a stand to protect stalking victims. These changes are long overdue, and will make all Californians safer.

Sincerely,

Sean Burke, Founder and CEO
Patrick Alach, Legal Counsel

Friday
Jan102014

Why we support California Assembly Bill 1256 to strengthen California's Privacy Law

January 9, 2014

The Honorable Bob Wieckowski
Chair, Assembly Judiciary Committee
State Capitol, Room 4016
Sacramento, CA 95814
Fax: (916) 319-2125 

Dear Assemblymember Wieckowski:

            On behalf of the Paparazzi Reform Initiative, Inc. (“PRI”), we respectfully write in support of AB 1256, a common sense and narrow approach to protecting public safety and providing welcomed clarity to the phrase “personal and familial” activity as defined in California Civil Code §1708.8.

AB 1256 is needed to:

1)    protect privacy;

2)    provide definitional clarity to “personal and familial” activity in California Civil Code §1708.8; and

3)    to protect citizens’ rights to enter and exit freely from important public facilities.

AB 1256 provides vital protections to, among others, medical patients, parents and children. There is nothing more important to a parent than the protection of their child.  That means protection from illness, injury, harassment and other threats.  And the safety of our children should be paramount at whatever school they attend.  Unfortunately, some children have increasingly become the focus of the paparazzi due to the increased interest in young, cute kids in the media.  Kids sell magazines and the paparazzi take and profit from their photographs.  As a result, there is an alarming increase of unconsented and disruptive paparazzi intrusions into children’s lives at schools. School administrators, parents and children alike are distressed by the presence of strangers photographing and recording small children for profit without obtaining the parents or children’s consent. This practice creates emotional distress in children, interferes with focused attention on school activities, and creates a predatory environment upon vulnerable members of society during delicate psychologically formative years of growth.

            For example, the simple act of a father picking up his daughter after school has morphed into an onerous and emotionally distressing chore. Indeed, just recently, Ben Affleck, holding his frightened and crying young daughter, needed to swing his leg outward to illustrate to the encircling encroachment of photographers the amount of space he and his daughter needed to move freely to exit school facilities. This disruption of movement not only affects those in the public spotlight who have small children, but other parents and school children seeking to enter and leave school facilities without impediment.

            Additionally and alarmingly, ailing members of society seeking to obtain prompt and potentially life saving medical treatment are afflicted by obstructions to hospital entrances and blockades of ambulance exits. It is reported that the hordes surrounding the hospitals during Britney Spears’ and Michael Jackson’s stays not only disrupted the free movement of the ailing seeking to enter the medical facilities, but effectively blocked ambulances (leaving the hospital to provide potentially life-saving emergency care) from exiting hospital facilities without delay. Ambulance delays of nearly 15 minutes were reported while hospital workers pleaded with the mob to move aside so the ambulances could leave. This is dangerous. Life and limb of others should not be imperiled by the wanton disruptions caused by hordes surrounding ambulance exits.

            AB 1256 accomplishes two very narrow and modest goals. First, AB 1256 clarifies the definition of “personal and familial” activity located in California Civil Code §1708.8 to provide statutory enumerations on the scope of the phrase. Second, AB 1256 creates a commonsense statute, in the form of California Civil Code §1708.9, to deter blockades surrounding the entrances of important facilities. §1708.9 does not affect speech; it only delineates where it is impermissible to station oneself.   These proposals protect public safety and the delicate psychological development of children, and ensure access to important facilities.

            AB 1256 is of immense importance to safeguard personal safety and privacy. 

Sincerely,

Sean Burke, Founder and CEO
Patrick Alach, Legal Counsel

Friday
Apr192013

In support of amendment to California's Privacy Law - AB 1256 (2013)

There is nothing more important to a parent than the protection of their child.  That means protection from illness, injury, harassment and other threats.  And the safety of our children should be paramount at whatever school they attend.  Unfortunately, some children have increasingly become the focus of the paparazzi due to the increased interest in young, cute children in the media.  Kids sell magazines and the paparazzi take and profit from their photographs.  As a result, there is an alarming increase of unconsented paparazzi intrusions into children’s lives at schools. School administrators, parents and children alike are distressed by the presence of strangers photographing and recording small children for profit without obtaining the parent’s or children’s consent. This practice creates emotional distress in children, interferes with focused attention on school activities, and creates a predatory environment upon vulnerable members of society during delicate psychologically formative years of growth.

For example, the simple act of a father picking up his daughter after school has morphed into an onerous and emotionally distressing chore. Indeed, just recently, Ben Affleck, holding his frightened and crying young daughter, needed to swing his leg outward to illustrate to the encircling encroachment of photographers the amount of space he and his daughter needed to move freely to exit school facilities. This disruption of movement not only affects those in the public spotlight who have small children, but other parents and school children seeking to enter and leave school facilities without impediment.

Additionally and alarmingly, ailing members of society seeking to obtain prompt and potentially life saving medical treatment are afflicted by obstructions to hospital entrances and blockades of ambulance exits. It is reported that the hordes surrounding the hospitals during Britney Spears’ and Michael Jackson’s stays not only disrupted the free movement of the ailing seeking to enter the medical facilities, but effectively blocked ambulances (leaving the hospital to provide potentially life-saving emergency care) from exiting hospital facilities without delay. Ambulance delays of nearly 15 minutes were reported while hospital workers pleaded with the mob to move aside so the ambulances could leave. This is an unacceptable status quo. Life and limb of others should not be imperiled by the wanton disruptions caused by hordes surrounding ambulance exits.

AB 1256 accomplishes two very narrow and modest goals. First, AB 1256 clarifies the definition of “personal and familial” activity located in California Civil Code §1708.8 to provide statutory enumerations on the scope of the phrase. Second, AB 1256 creates a commonsense statute, in the form of California Civil Code §1708.9, to deter blockades surrounding the entrances of important facilities. §1708.9 does not affect speech; it only delineates where it is impermissible to station oneself.   These proposals protect public safety and the delicate psychological development of children, and ensure access to important facilities.

Tuesday
Nov222011

Where do we go from here?

It has been over a year now since Governor Schwarzenegger signed into law California Assembly Bill 2479 which, among other things, increased the penalty for paparazzi driving recklessly while in pursuit of a photograph for sale - and even more penalties when their reckless driving endangers a child riding in the car they are chasing. 

Before this bill was signed into law, we heard reports of the paparazzi NOT chasing as much, especially when they knew children were in the car.  It is gratifying to see the bills enacted in 2009 and 2010 have done their job acting as a deterrent to the paparazzi and the organizations that purchase paparazzi photos. 

At least on the surface things seem a bit calmer out on the streets.  We have received sporadic reports of aggression or violence by the paparazzi but it seems much less than when our organization launched in 2008. 

Though we are not actively pursuing paparazzi-reform legislation at this time, we remain watchful and ready to move back into greater action if the aggression increases again. 

We welcome all reports of good or bad paparazzi behavior.  You can send us an email, photos or video. 

Thank you to all those that support our work and we hope that the paparazzi continue following the new laws and being better behaved, but if they don't, we're ready to return to greater action.