The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California is opposing legislation to be introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein as the Personal Privacy Protection Act which would criminalize constitutionally-protected activities by photographers. If passed, the measure would make it a federal crime to follow a celebrity for the purpose of taking photographs and impose a minimum sentence of five years if bodily injury occurs. In addition, the use of certain photographic equipment such as zoom lenses could be considered trespassing.
The ACLU of Southern California says that current laws make harassment of any one celebrity or otherwise a crime, and that this proposed legislation places a burden on the First Amendment.
Commenting on the proposed measure, ACLU of Southern California Executive Director Ramona Ripston said, "The First Amendment is not a one-way street. Those who benefit from a free press must be willing to give it breathing room. Only that way can the First Amendment survive. Creating more crimes, particularly more federal crimes, is the politician's easy solution to all problems. Imposing lengthy minimum prison terms and preventing the use of ordinary photographic equipment is not the answer. Recent experience has shown that state law will handle any excesses by the media."