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New Privacy Laws in California

California is a state that is concerned with the privacy of its citizens. This year there were several new Privacy laws signed into law and going into effect January 1, 2015.

Use of Drones: Drones are being used at an ever-increasing rate by people for all kinds of purposes. Some are good and other not so much. The new Civil Code section 1708.8 precludes the use of any device, including drones, from recording private personal or familial activities. This means that your fence still means something.

The governor, however, vetoed a bill that would have prohibited law enforcement from using drones to monitor people’s activities without a warrant. This is a hotly debated issue and I expect that it will be addressed again.

Increased penalties for stalking and harassment: Last year bills were passed that increased the criminal penalties and created a civil remedy for harassing the children of high-profile celebrities. This year, Civil Code section 1708.7 was expanded to include conduct intended to put the plaintiff “under surveillance.” Civil Code section 1708.9 was added, rendering actionable the use of force, threat of force or violent physical obstruction to attempt to or actually “injure, intimidate, or interfere with, any person attempting to enter or exit” a public of private school hospital or other health facility. This might run in conflict with the recent Supreme Court ruling regarding abortion clinics.

“Revenge pornography.” Revenge pornography is the non-consensual online publication of explicit images by an ex romantic partner. Penal Code section 647 was amended to allow the prosecution of a defendant who should have known that the subject of the photos did not consent to their distribution. Civil Code section 1708.85 was added to create a private right of action for revenge porn victims to sue their ex-partner for the distribution the pictures. There is no longer a requirement that the plaintiff/victim prove emotional distress.

Mug Shots. A new law was passed that prevents companies from posting mug shots in order to require people to pay to remove the photos off the internet. Civil Code section 1798.91 makes it unlawful to solicit or accept payment to remove, correct or modify mug shots.

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