An unprovoked attack on a San Fernando Valley high school teen prompted a proposed bill that would make it illegal to record a violent attack with the intent of posting it on social media.
Assembly Bill 1542, is dubbed "Jordan's Law", after Jordan Peisner, the victim of the December 2016 crime. Peisner was attacked by a stranger while the attacker's friend recorded the incident. It was later found, the attack was motivated by the friend for the purpose of recording and posting the attack to social media.
The proposed bill would make it illegal for a person committing a violent felony, either directly or as an aide or abettor, to record video of the crime or conspire with another person to record the offense with the purpose of distributing it on social media.
The goal behind the bill is to cut down on social media motivated attacks, which the bill's author, Assemblymember Matt Dababneh (D-Woodland Hills), claims is on the rise.
Under the bill, if a person is found guilty of conspiring to record, or aiding to record a violent crime, the act could be punishable by a one-year enhancement in addition to the penalty for the violent felony.
Does this bill violate First Amendment rights?
Although the current text of the bill is vague, it does clearly state, the offense is to conspire to record a violent felony either directly or as an aide or abettor. This means, a person would have to be found guilty of planning the attack with the motivation of recording video of the attack.
A person who happens to stumble upon the attack or is a bystander, would not be criminalized for recording the attack, according to Marc Berkman, district chief of staff for Dababneh's office. The First Amendment right to record and post the attack to social media is still protected for a person who is just watching, even if its contributing to bullying or if the person knows the attacker, so as long as they weren't involved in the plan to record the attack.