Nowhere to run

Bill O-Reilly's picture

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 Ms. 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.

Ms. 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 websites 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 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 camera-cell phones, 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, Ms. Onassis took him to court and won. Galella was ordered to stay 100 yards away from her.

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 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, whether trying to earn a fast buck or simply being 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 technology, evildoers defame, demean and embarrass their fellow countrymen on a daily basis. Just check out some of these political websites — 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, opposition from the legal lobby be damned.

This is not a private matter anymore.

[Veteran TV news anchor Bill O’Reilly is host of the Fox News show “The O’Reilly Factor” and author of the book “Who’s Looking Out For You?” This column originates on the website] COPYRIGHT 2007

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Sniffles's picture
Submitted by Sniffles on Mon, 12/10/2007 - 11:02am.

O'reilly rails against the stalker camera goons....but he's not adverse to using them himself!

Last month his goon squad ambushed Rosie O'Donnell at a book signing with television cameras a-blazin'.

"Public place" you say?

Okay, how about when O'reilly's goons went to the home of the publisher of the Seattle newspaper who had the audacity to decline to appear on his show? They went to his home!

OReilly sends thugs to Post-Intelligencer's publisher's house

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