Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 29 July 2014

Berry testifies for anti-pap bill

Halle Berry said the paparazzi put her daughter off going to school

Halle Berry has testified in favour of new legislation that would limit the ability of paparazzi to photograph the children of celebrities and public figures.

The Oscar-winning actress - who has a five-year-old daughter, Nahla, and who is expecting a son with fiance Olivier Martinez - spoke out in support of the bill at a hearing in the US.

"My daughter doesn't want to go to school because she knows 'the men' are watching for her," Halle 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 in California 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.

But journalism advocates fear the bill will interfere with reporters and photographers gathering news. In an age when everyone with a mobile phone 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.

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