Internet searches easily unveil normal people’s ages, home addresses (and what they paid for them), education, etc. Additionally, people rely on quick smartphone searches to settle casual bets (or curiosity) on celebrities’ careers and personal details. However, California just made it harder to get actor ages via IMDb and other online sites to protect them from age discrimination, never mind protecting everyone else!
New state legislation requires certain entertainment sites, such as IMDb, remove (or never post) an actor’s age information upon request, effective Jan. 1, 2017. The State Assembly bill 1687, which California Gov. Jerry Brown signed on Saturday, specifically applies only to entertainment database-type Websites that enable paid subscribers to post their head shots, resumes, or other information for prospective employers. Such sites are typically used in the entertainment industry – much like LinkedIn is used in other industries – as a way for perspective candidates and those hiring to find each other.
The legislation applies to all entertainment jobs, but is likely to be utilized most by actors, who often decry industry age discrimination and wanted to law changed as a preventive measure. The person requesting removal or to never show age-related information must be a paying subscriber, versus those who just casually use the site. It is just a California law, but it is unlikely any Website is going to post different information inside the state and outside.
The state’s Assembly Majority Leader Ian Calderon, D-Whittier noted that federal and state laws prohibit age discrimination, but it still persists in the entertainment industry. He added, the legislation “provides the necessary tools to remove age information from online profiles on employment referral websites to help prevent this type of discrimination.”
SAG President Gabrielle Carteris may have been overly optimistic when she said that AB 1687 will help prevent age discrimination in casting and hiring. She wrote a guest column for “Hollywood Reporter” that said, “It is time to stop the ageism that permeates Hollywood’s casting process. This problem exists for all performers, but most distinctly for women,” Carteris noted.
Noting that many actors encounter age discrimination at some point in their careers, Carteris went on to state that almost-automatic age discrimination is possible by the ages being posted on online casting sites. “The information is put front and center before those making the decisions about whom to audition and whom to hire,” she noted.
While not posting them information, age discrimination is still likely. When casting a high school student, not too many 29-year-olds will seem believable and get the part (Carteris was 29 when cast as a student in “Beverly Hills 90210 (the original)”), no matter whether the actual age is public information or not.
Opponents of the measure have suggested a potential Constitutional challenge and First Amendment concerns about free speech. However, the fact that the law is limited to subscribers eliminates that “free” speech argument.
Age discrimination in hiring does exist. Ask anyone over 50 who has been laid off a job … or most actresses over 50. Maybe everyone’s ages, not just actors’, should be harder to get online unless they choose to allow it!
Written and Edited by Dyanne Weiss
California Legislative Information: AB-1687 Customer records: age information: commercial online entertainment employment service providers.
Hollywood Reporter: California Enacts Law Requiring IMDb to Remove Actor Ages on Request
PerezHilton: California Passes Bill Requiring IMDb To Remove Actors’ Ages From Site — But Does The Law Prevent Age Discrimination Or Suppress Free Speech?
By unbekanntAmazon.com, Inc. [Public domain]