I love these kind of chats! I've got a degree in journalism (good honest journalism is what I want to do, not mindless celebrity stuff, just to be clear!) I've had to study this quite a bit, so I'll put down both sides.
The UK (where I'm from), has a really interesting press history, and is now one of the most famous in the world for this type of hounding. The UK was actually one of the first, if not the first (sorry, can't remember the exact facts now) places to introduce a free press, mainly through plenty of underground streams first. At that time it was beyond vital (I'm sure everyone here knows why so I won't explain!) Still today, the need for the press to remain an open forum is paramount.
That being said, the press (the vast majority anyway) are now abusing this freedom in their pursuit of celebrities. But there are so many factors to consider. Gone are the days when an actor/actress/muscian etc literally just did their acting job and had a very small public presence. Even when they did appear in public they had a public persona, keeping their private lives firmly out of the equation. For whatever reason, most likely competition (either to studios and record labels, or the celebrity themselves), celebrities started opening up a bit more, inviting people to get to know them better as a person, not just their occupation, so that they could be more successful. I think we can all agree that what is happening now has gone way too far and has nothing to do with the celebrity choosing to put themselves out there. But one of the difficulties is, where do we draw the line? On the one hand, celebrities want to use the media to their own gain but are unhappy when the shoe is on the other foot. Obviously the paps/stalking/ruthless pursuing is way, way out of line. People have the right to walk down the street in peace, never mind taking the safety aspect into concern.
Then there's the way that the press industry operates. The paps, more often than not, are either freelance, or hired by a pap firm. Very few of the ruthless ones actually work directly for a publication. Each picture has a price tag, the rarer the picture, the higher the price. Paps end up finding themselves having to go the extreme lengths to get the best shot. Of course, if it were me (I wouldn't become a pap in the first place, but if I did) I would refuse certain things based on the grounds of my own morals. The system whereby publications come across their pictures has to change.
Then we have to consider what more legislation would bring us. I know the UK doesn't have any privacy laws. I'm not sure if the US is different, but I'm guessing not. For example, a story gets printed in at least one of the national newspapers which reports (correctly) that a politician has had numerous affairs. Now, the question is, is that in the public interest, or just what the public is interested in? It can be a bit of a grey area where politicians/officials are concerned. One the one hand, their career isn't about selling themselves, it's about selling what they can do for the country. However, the public want someone who's trust worthy, and even though his personal life is none of our business, if he can lie and deceive his own wife, then who's to say he isn't doing that in government? If a privacy law was introduced for celebrities then it probably wouldn't take a long time before others would want to take advantage of it. And again, where would you draw the line? Would the celebrity be able to approach any publication whenever they wanted, profitting from it, while at the same time, publications were banned from running their own stories independantly from the celebrities? That just wouldn't work. Not least because a hell of a lot of publications would go out of business (some quite rightly, *cough* National Enquirer *cough*).
So really, there's two viable options. One, reform the way paps are allowed to obtain their photos. Quite a lot of the measures that need to be put in place would be very hard to govern -- like limiting the number of paps who can follow someone (there'd just be endless arguements of "I was here first!") -- but it certain steps can be taken.
Two, we need to change. I'm not saying that all of us are celebrity crazy/desperate to get all the latest info, however, the western world as a whole is. If there wasn't a demand for these pictures then they wouldn't sell. Yes there are cases where publications give us what they think we want to see, but more often than most it's our own want for these types of stories/images that fuel the pap fire. If you take away the crucial element, demand, then the paps will have no alternative than to seek other employment. However, this would be extremely difficult. On a personal level it's beyond easy, just choose not to buy/read/look up any celebrity information other than from their official spokesperson. However, spreafding the message and really creating an impact is so much harder to achieve. Ironically, in the pursuit of a free press to maintain democracy and liberate ourselves we've managed to oppress ourselves at the same time. The system can't change without mass effort and yet getting that message across (in an age where the ways in which we communicate are endless) to as many people needed to make a change is almost impossible.
I wasn’t born a compassionless shrew. I used to be sort of nice, you know - Leah Clearwater, Breaking Dawn, p.316