Hilary Duff thinks it’s time to get to work on changing the law so that non-parental adults can’t take pictures of minors in public without parental consent.
The “Lizzie McGuire” actress had videotaped a Saturday exchange she had with a man who was taking pictures at her 7-year-old’s football game, which was being played in a public park.
The man, who was not identified, had a large, professional-looking lens on his camera. It was unclear whether he was a paparazzo or if he knew he was photographing a celebrity’s child. The words between the two stayed relatively calm.
“Human to human, as a mother,” Duff asked him, “if you don’t know anyone here, can you please stop taking pictures of our children playing football this morning?”
He replied that what he was doing was legal and offered to show her ID. A California law that went into effect in 2014 and was upheld in 2015 makes it illegal for paparazzi to photograph celebrities’ kids in a manner that “seriously alarms, annoys, torments, or terrorizes the child or ward.”
“I’m taking pictures, practicing photography,” he said. “I’m not here to scare you or anything like that. Your paranoia is unwarranted.”
Duff then threatened the man with posting the video of their exchange to her “15 million followers on Instagram to let them know how creepy it is that this is how you’re choosing to spend your Saturday morning.”
By Tuesday, the video had been watched nearly 2 million times.
“Paparazzi shooting KIDS,” she said in the caption on the video. “Go ‘practice’ your photography on ADULTS! Creep! Laws need to change! This is stalking minors! Disgusting!”
Fellow actress Nikki Reed supported Duff, saying in comments on the post, "[I]n the process of making money off of little kid’s private moments, these children grow up feeling unsafe. Having strange men lurking around corners, hiding behind cars and trees and showing up at your football practice or waiting outside your home when you are too young to process what is happening has psychological ramifications and should be without a doubt illegal. ... I’m not one to jump in unless I feel real change needs to happen, so mamas let’s get loud, get laws changed, and protect our babies.”
Alongside those agreeing with Duff were others who definitely did not. Some accused her of misusing her public platform to humiliate a man who had done nothing wrong, while others pointed to the racial factor in the exchange, because the actress is white and the photographer is black.
Duff came back Monday night with an Instagram story video further explaining her thoughts. She admitted that she wasn’t certain that the man she had videotaped was a paparazzo, saying that she didn’t recognize him as one of the shooters who follows her regularly.
“He could have just been a regular dude,” she said. Then she revealed that she had called the police, whom she deemed “pretty dismissive” of her concerns. They asked her what she wanted them to do about it because everyone involved was in a public place, she said.
“If a parent is asking for it to stop, the laws should be changed for you to not be able to photograph” that child, Duff said.
The actress was OK with kids being in the background if someone was out taking photos, or if a parent gave permission. It’s unclear how something like that might be enforced.
“If those kids are the subject of your ‘photography’ practice over and over and over again,” she said, throwing air quotes around the word photography, “for minutes or a half hour, however long it was, and you ask someone to please stop that, you should have that right. And we really need to work on changing that law.”