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Halle testifies for anti-paparazzi bill

26 June 2013, 13:11

Sacramento - Academy Award-winner Halle Berry testified on Tuesday for a California bill that would limit the ability of paparazzi to photograph the children of celebrities and public figures.

"My daughter doesn't want to go to school because she knows 'the men' are watching for her," the actor said. "They jump out of the bushes and from behind cars and who knows where else, besieging these children just to get a photo."

The bill would change the definition of harassment to include photographing or recording a child without the permission of a legal guardian by following the child or guardian's activities or by lying in wait.

It also increases the penalties for people convicted of such behaviour. Anyone convicted of a first offence could spend between 10 days and a year in jail.

Bill will interfere

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

"It sweeps legitimate newsgathering activities into the new definition of harassment and exposes everyday activities that journalists do to criminal and civil liability," said Jim Ewert of the California Newspaper Publishers Association.

The bill is supported by many Southern California law enforcement organisations.

After the hearing, journalists hurried after Berry, recording her every move until she boarded a private elevator.

- AP

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