Longo & Alach LLP’s Legislative Efforts:
Longo & Alach LLP is steadfast in its commitment to protecting personal liberty and privacy. It continues to lead in developing legal theories and reform proposals that aim to combat the erosion of personal privacy rights in the face of the ever-increasing ease with which modern technology facilitates such invasions.
Increasingly, small children at schools and dwellers at private residences are being placed under unauthorized surveillance. In an effort to curb egregious and systematic violations of personal autonomy and privacy, the California Legislature has proposed several laws for consideration in 2013 to protect privacy rights from further deterioration. In particular, Assembly Bill 1356 (“AB 1356”) creates “placing under surveillance” as a predicate act to trigger application of California’s civil stalking law. Moreover, understanding the dangerous proximity to physical harm that the current stalking law places stalking victims, AB 1356 allows victims who suffer substantial emotional distress as a result of being stalked to use the law – as opposed to being required to show fear of imminent physical harm.
Another component of California’s recent efforts to protect children’s privacy is reflected in Assembly Bill 1256 (“AB 1256”) - the proposed modifications to California Civil Code §1708.8 that delineate zones of privacy within the definition of “private, personal and familial activity.” Additionally, AB 1256 creates a new section of the California Civil Code that creates physical buffer zones around important public institutions to prevent blockaded exits and entrances. Among other areas, the proposed buffer zone law will prevent blockades surrounding ambulance exit-ways to ensure life-saving ambulance care can be provided without undue delay.
Longo & Alach LLP encourages all Californians concerned about privacy rights to contact their representatives to support both AB 1356 and 1256.
During October of 2010, after the successful passage of AB 524, partners Mick Longo, Esq. and Patrick J. Alach, Esq., understanding the need for further reforms to protect Californians’ privacy rights, proposed a series of new laws to Speaker Bass through the Paparazzi Reform Initiative. Speaker Bass agreed that further reforms were needed to protect privacy rights, and adopted language from several of Longo & Alach LLP’s proposed laws. Speaker Bass’ second push for privacy protections came in the form of Assembly Bill 2479 (“AB 2479”). Partner Patrick Alach, alongside Sean Burke of the Paparazzi Reform Initiative, traveled to Sacramento several times during the 2010 California legislative session to support AB 2479 during the Assembly and Senate Judiciary Committee Hearings. Again, privacy rights achieved success – AB 2479 passed the California legislature, was signed into law in September of 2010, and went into effect on January 1, 2011.
AB 2479 adds false imprisonment as another actionable offense to Section 1708.8 of the California Civil Code. In addition, AB 2479 increased the penalties for anyone cited for driving recklessly in an attempt to capture a visual image for commercial purpose from an infraction to a misdemeanor. These penalties range from up to $2,500 in fines and 6 months in jail to $5,000 in fines and a year in jail if a minor is endangered in the pursuit.
In May of 2009, the office of then California Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (“Speaker Bass”), in an effort to provide more effective privacy rights to the citizens of California, proposed to reform the “anti-paparazzi law”, California Civil Code Section 1708.8 (“1708.8”), by adopting the legal theories set forth in Longo & Alach LLP partner Patrick J. Alach’s paper on the subject, Paparazzi and Privacy. Assembly Bill 524 (“AB 524”) contained Speaker Bass’ amendments to 1708.8, and its language reflected the need to shift liability to publishers who purchased materials obtained in violation of 1708.8 in order to reduce monetary incentives for invasions of privacy. Partners Patrick J. Alach, Esq. and Mick Longo, Esq., alongside the Paparazzi Reform Initiative, advocated vigorously on behalf of AB 524. Their efforts were met with success – then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed AB 524 into law in October of 2009 and it went into effect on January 1, 2010.
In short, AB 524 imposes penalties on publishers who purchase photographs that were taken in violation of 1708.8. This is the first law of its kind in the United States of America.