Feb 012013
 February 1, 2013  Posted by  Laws

Anita Hofschneider of Associated Press reports:

More than two-thirds of Hawaii’s state senators have signed onto a bill to protect celebrities from paparazzi, giving them power to sue over unwanted beach photos and other snapshots on the islands.

And the bill’s author says he’s pushing the law at the request of Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler, the former “American Idol” judge who recently bought a new home in Maui.

Read more on SFGate.

The bill is S.B. 465 as it seems to stand the “no expectation of privacy in public” standard on its head. From the bill:

A person is liable for a civil action of constructive invasion of privacy if the person captures or intends to capture, in a manner that is offensive to a reasonable person, through any means a visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression of another person while that person is engaging in a personal or familial activity with a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Well, if you’re out in a public space, what’s a “reasonable expectation of privacy?” Does this law apply to up-skirting a non-celebrity shopper on an escalator? If you’re a celebrity taking your young child to school, that’s a family moment in public. Would the law apply if someone snaps a picture? The language of the law doesn’t provide guidance, and I don’t know that “reasonable person” is who will decide.

And how does the new law comport with the increasing use of drones? What happens to the “reasonable expectation of privacy” if one knows that drones may fly overhead?

All in all, this bill seems to need a lot more thought and clarification. Basing privacy law on a desire to cater to celebrities doesn’t necessarily result in good law.

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