Opinion: Change needed in privacy laws
The actress Julia Roberts, driving a Mercedes SUV, recently ran a man off the road, got out of her car, and demanded he stop following her and photographing her young children. Good for Roberts!...
The actress Julia Roberts, driving a Mercedes SUV, recently ran a man off the road, got out of her car, and demanded he stop following her and photographing her young children. Good for Roberts!
She stood up for herself and millions of other Americans who are being victimized by video intruders -- people who are actively destroying the right to privacy for all Americans.
While the ACLU and other far-left zealots are screaming about U.S. intelligence agencies listening in on calls made to suspected terrorist locations overseas, we hear little about Americans being stalked and hounded by camera-touting, cash-seeking weasels.
No famous person can even vacation anymore without fear of someone photographing them in a bathing suit or playing with their kids. Jennifer Love Hewitt, a 28-year-old actress, recently went for a swim in Hawaii. Presto: pictures of her were splashed all over the net, with mocking commentary about her rear end.
Hewitt is furious and she should be. Because of the Internet, people can instantly become objects of worldwide derision by simply wading into a pool.
There are now literally hundreds of Web sites that pay for pictures of famous people captured in awkward positions; the more demeaning the shot, the more money paid. There is no privacy anymore.
And it's not just and the rich and famous. All over the country, net postings mock regular folks who happen to be caught in an embarrassing moment. With so many Americans armed with cell phone cameras, it is easy to zoom in on missteps.
This collapse of privacy rights should disturb all Americans. Under civil law in most states, you can sue someone for "unreasonable intrusion on one's seclusion." In a famous 1972 case, Jacqueline Onassis did just that. Fed up with being stalked by a photographer named Ron Galella, Onassis took him to court and won. Galella was ordered to stay 100 yards away from Onassis.
But most regular folks don't have Onassis money and can't afford an expensive court case where damages tend to be minimal. So what's the solution to this assault on privacy rights?
To answer that question, we travel to Great Britain. There, judges hear civil cases 99 percent of the time; juries are rarely involved. There, the person who loses a civil suit usually pays all the court costs, including those of the plaintiff.
If America would revise its corrupt civil court system, judges could hear privacy cases and quickly punish individuals who, trying to earn a fast buck or are simply mean-spirited, violate a person's privacy rights. That kind of justice would restore a semblance of sanity.
The rise of the computer age means many freedoms are under assault. Hiding behind the technology, evildoers are defaming, demeaning, and embarrassing their fellow countrymen on a daily basis. Just check out some of these political Web sites; to call them sewers is to insult garbage.
But actually stalking people with cameras is beyond the pale, and something has to be done. Congress must enact new laws and tort reform to stop this Internet madness. This is not a private matter anymore.