LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A new California law that will block websites from disclosing an actor’s age isn’t set to take effect until next year, but both sides are already speaking out after the bill’s passage.
AB 1687, which was signed into law Sept. 24 by Gov. Jerry Brown, is said to help combat age discrimination by preventing the publication of a performer’s age by any “business that owns, licenses, or maintains personal information about a California resident”.
Actors union SAG-AFTRA has long sought to stem what opponents say is “career damage” caused by the publication of actors’ birth dates on online casting websites such as IMDb and StudioSystem.
The law was authored after Texas actress Junie Hoang filed a million-dollar claim in 2012 against Amazon, saying the company mined her IMDb account information to learn her advanced age and then posted it on her profile — causing her offers for roles to dry up.
Former “Beverly Hills 90210” star and SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris said she was “overjoyed” about the law’s passage and that it “will help improve the working lives of all SAG-AFTRA members and aspiring performers.”
“Like all employees, performers deserve a fair opportunity to prove what they can do, and this bill will help them do just that,” said Carteris.
While the law passed through both houses of the California Legislature with an overwhelming majority, critics such as the Internet Association’s Michael Beckerman have suggested AB 1687 could inadvertently suppress free speech by “(r)equiring the removal of factually accurate age information.”
“This is not a question of preventing salacious rumors; rather it is about the right to present basic facts that live in the public domain,” Beckerman told the Hollywood Reporter. “Displaying such information isn’t a form of discrimination, and internet companies should not be punished for how people use public data.”
State Assembly Majority Leader Ian Calderon (D-Whittier) acknowledged that although age information is “readily available from other online sources”, AB 1687 was directed at helping lesser known actors and actresses compete for smaller roles without being “excluded from auditioning simply based on their age.”
The law – which is set to take effect on Jan. 1 – will give sites five days to comply with an actor’s request to have his or her age removed.