Our Opinion

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

Posted by admin on January 10, 2014

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

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