Privacy Act restrains paparazzi

Campus Times
February 27, 1998

by Laura Czingula
Editor in Chief


As a journalist I am supposed to have some sort of a specific view on things, right? Freedom of speech and ethically correct decisions are just to name a few.

But when Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) introduced the Personal Privacy Protection Act last week, I had to put my foot down and agree with it and go against the so-called "journalistic view."

The Privacy Protection Act would still preserve the age-old right to photograph celebrities in public and sell the film, but would crack down on actions that could jeopardize their safety in the process. The bill addresses only the action a photographer takes to get a picture -- specifically forbidding "persistent chasing or following."

The chasing or following is what is absolutely ridiculous, no matter who you are, what you are doing or how much money you make.

Sure, celebrities are fun to see and everyone wants to see them and know what is going on with them. But when it really comes down to it, they are human beings, just like you and me and they deserve their privacy when wanted.

I am the first one to admit that I love seeing celebrities. Just last week, I ran over to the La Verne police station to see Christian Slater washing police cars.

But did I have a camera, or even a note pad for that matter? I did not try and take his picture. All I wanted to do was get a glimpse at our new neighbor. There was no harm in it. But if I was to try and take his picture and chase him around the police station, I am sure something bad would have happened.

The events of Princess Diana's death in Paris, when her chauffeur apparently tried to outrun a pack of paparazzi, is when I had decided that the whole picture taking situation was getting a little bit out of control.

There is a fine line between getting a picture and doing a job. Chasing a person down and hiding in a bush to get a picture is not my idea of good journalism.

It has gone too far and someone needs to put his or her foot down to stop all the crazy paparazzi nonsense.

If a celebrity is ready and willing to take pictures for a photographer, then that is one thing. But if a photographer has to climb trees and look into the private homes and windows of celebrities to get a picture or a story without their consent, then it has gone entirely too far. And that is what the new Personal Privacy Protection Act proposes.

Pictures can still be taken of a celebrity if he or she just happens to be walking down the street or driving on the freeway, but if it causes any danger to the celebrity or his/her family, then that is when the bill steps in.

The new bill would update the definition of trespassing to including zoom lenses and other enhancement devises, and intends to stop photographers from peering into bedrooms and backyards, without actually stepping into and on private property.

Some of you may think the First Amendment already provides this law. Well, it does not. Trespassing is not protected by the First Amendment and, therefore, action must be taken to protect these celebrities who are being hunted down.

No, I am not a celebrity, but I am sure that for most celebrities, dealing with the paparazzi cannot be something that they get used too. It must be a huge inconvenience for them. How annoying would it be if you were to open up your bedroom to get some fresh air and all of a sudden a camera flash started to go off?

Or say there was a death in the family and at the funeral, a photographer is snapping shots left and right for the next National Enquirer issue. I understand that celebrities did choose the sort of lifestyle they are in, but there has got to be point when things are controlled and they are able to have a little privacy.

There is a time for cameras and then there is a time for being normal and living a normal life. How can celebrities live a normal life when journalists are sticking cameras up their noses all of the time? It should be stopped.

I believe the nation wants another Princess Diana accident to occur, do you?

Laura Czingula, a senior journalism major, is editor in chief of the Campus Times. She can be reached by e-mail at