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AB 1671 Assembly Public Safety Committee votes to protect privacy: Bill carefully weighs freedom of speech & right to privacy

2016-AB1671

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 19, 2016

Contact: Ana Sandoval, PPAC Communications, 916.446.5247 x115

SACRAMENTO – The Assembly Public Safety Committee voted to protect the personal privacy rights of Californians by passing AB 1671 on a 5-1 vote. Authored by Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles), AB 1671 closes a loophole in current law to prohibit the intentional disclosure and distribution of confidential communications that are obtained without a person’s consent.

“We are very protective of Californians’ right to privacy,” said Assemblymember Gomez, “But a loophole in the law that forbids taping of conversations without consent allows for the distribution of those tapes without restriction. This bill fixes that loophole.”

Under current law, it is illegal to record private confidential communications without the consent of all the parties – an important protection of a person’s constitutional right to privacy. But the law was enacted before the internet and before the advent of technology that allows for the mass distribution of electronic communications.

Last summer, the anti-abortion front group, the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), released a series of reckless and malicious videos as part of a national smear campaign to spread lies about Planned Parenthood. This group surreptitiously and illegally taped the private professional conversations of a number of Planned Parenthood heath providers without their consent. They spliced together shards of longer conversations to fabricate short videos in order to spread false claims that Planned Parenthood profits from women’s decisions to donate fetal tissue for medical research. They then distributed these illegally taped videos to millions via the Internet, even after investigations in several states found no wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood.

“Because of this loophole, those who illegally taped private conversations were allowed to distribute their lies and distortions across the nation, causing real harm to our health care providers. As Judge William H. Orrick said in his order granting a preliminary injunction against the release of certain CMP videos, ‘This significant increase in harassment and violent acts – including the most recent attack in Colorado Springs at the clinic where ‘target’ Dr. Ginde is the medical director – has been adequately linked to the timing of the release of the Project videos by CMP.’,” said Kathy Kneer, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California. “That’s why we need AB 1671 – to protect the privacy rights of our doctors and of all Californians. We believe this law will serve as a deterrent to those who seek to violate the personal privacy rights of individuals.”

Since the release of the smear campaign videos, Planned Parenthood affiliates across the nation have seen a 900 percent increase in threats and acts of violence against its health centers.

“At Planned Parenthood, safety is our number 1 priority. Our affiliates across the nation have had to spend millions of dollars on increased security to ensure the safety of our patients and our staff -- Millions that should be spent on patient care,” Kneer said. 

AB 1671 now heads to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

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Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California (PPAC) is the state public policy office representing California’s seven separately incorporated Planned Parenthood affiliates. Through advocacy and electoral action, PPAC promotes sound public policy in areas of reproductive and preventive health care, family planning and comprehensive sexual health education.

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