California legislators have passed a bill which targets undercover journalists such as the anti-abortion activists who secretly recorded conversations with Planned Parenthood officials and then released the videos online.
FoxNews.com reports that the bill now goes to California’s Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk for approval.
Planned Parenthood supports the bill which would level fines against groups like the Center for Medical Progress for their undercover journalism.
In California, it is already a crime to record and distribute a “confidential communication” without the consent of the involved parties, but the bill in question would add increased penalties.
In addition to fines, the bill would pave the way for undercover journalists to be prosecuted with up to a year in prison. The bill also specifically targets undercover conversations with health care providers.
Beth Parker, chief legal counsel for Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, told the Los Angeles Times, “With the Internet and the tremendous wildfire nature in which news can be spread now through social media, we need to have a crime against distribution by those in particular who did the illegal recording.”
However, other organizations believe the bill would restrict fundamental rights. In June, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) argued against the bill:
“We know of no legitimate governmental reason for singling-out disclosure of all health care provider communications for special criminal sanctions, making the bill vulnerable not only on First Amendment grounds but also on equal protection grounds,” said a statement from the ACLU.
The editorial board of The Los Angeles Times added that “The potential for unanticipated and unwelcome consequences is huge.”
Photo courtesy: flickr.com
Publication date: September 7, 2016