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California governor signs law aimed at protecting kids from paparazzi

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A California bill aimed at keeping paparazzi away from the children of celebrities and supported by film stars and parents Halle Berry and Jennifer Garner was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on Tuesday.

Brown, a Democrat who dated rock singer Linda Ronstadt during his first stint as California governor in the 1970s, approved the measure without comment.

The California Newspaper Publishers Association and other groups had opposed Senate Bill 606, which increases penalties for harassing children because of their parents' job, on the grounds that it could restrict reporters and photographers covering the news.

The penalties for harassing children of celebrities would increase from a maximum of six months in jail to a maximum of one year. Potential fines would increase to $10,000, from the current $1,000.

The bill got a boost when Hollywood moms Berry and Garner testified on its behalf at a California legislative hearing in August.

An emotional Garner told a California Assembly Committee that she and her children were followed everywhere they go.

"How often do we see a tragedy unfold and say, 'Oh, there were so many warning signs. Why didn't anybody pay attention?'" Garner, who has three children with actor-director Ben Affleck said at the time. "I am asking you as a parent to pay attention."

(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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