California’s Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has in the last few days signed new legislation AB 2479 (as amended in Senate) into law. This is the most recent bill authored by Speaker Emeritus Karen Bass.  The new law creates new claims and new remedies  for invasion of privacy and increases the penalty for false imprisonment and reckless driving by paparazzi . It comes  into effect on 1 January 2011.

The significance of this new law is that paparazzi can be now be sentenced for up to a year in jail for driving recklessly while attempting to capture images or recordings of another person. It also provides for significant remedies for invasion of privacy especially where surveillance techniques are used. Clause 1(b) provides

A person is liable for constructive invasion of privacy when the defendant attempts to capture, in a manner that is offensive toa reasonable person, any type of visual image, sound recording,or other physical impression of the plaintiff engaging in a personal or familial activity under circumstances in which the plaintiff had a reasonable expectation of privacy, through the use of a visual or auditory enhancing device, regardless of whether there is a physicaltrespass, if this image, sound recording, or other physical impression could not have been achieved without a trespass unlessthe visual or auditory enhancing device was used.

The Paparazzi Reform Initiative,  commented on the new law:

“We are hopeful this will act as a deterrent to the paparazzi and car chases will decrease thus increasing the safety of both the person(s) in the car being chased and innocent bystanders. This new law sends an unmistakable signal that paparazzi behavior needs to change. We hope the paparazzi take heed and temper their aggressive behavior.”

For more information about the  Paparazzi Reform Initiative, see their website. This website also features shocking video footage of harassment of Kate Moss at LA X airport. We have previously posted articles about other changes in California privacy law here.