California Governor Jerry Brown has just signed a law requiring entertainment websites, including IMDb, to remove – or not post in the first place – an actor’s age or birthday upon request.
Age has long been a hot-button topic in Hollywood, and it comes as no surprise that the actor’s union, the Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), has long lobbied for the legislation on the grounds that “it is time to stop the ageism that permeates Hollywood’s casting process”.
Over the years, many high-profile actors and musicians, such as Margot Robbie, Rebel Wilson and Nelly, have been accused of disguising their real ages. (In May, the US website Jezebel published a story claiming that Robbie was actually in her 30s. For the record, Margot says she's 25, and we believe her.)
The law, which comes into effective from January 1, 2017, targets websites that allow paid subscribers to post CVs, headshots or other information for prospective employers.
The digital community is up in arms, claiming the law was a violation of free speech. “We are disappointed [the bill] was signed into law,” Noah Theran, the Internet Association’s spokesperson, told The Hollywood Reporter. “We remain concerned with the bill and the precedent it will set of suppressing factual information on the internet.”
Internet Association president Michael Beckerman added: “This is not a question of preventing salacious rumours; rather it is about the right to present basic facts that live in the public domain. Displaying such information isn’t a form of discrimination, and internet companies should not be punished for how people use public data.”
But Majority Leader of the California State Assembly Ian Calderon maintained the law is not aimed at protecting Tinseltown’s elite. “While age information for Hollywood’s biggest stars is readily available from other online sources, this bill is aimed at protecting lesser known actors and actresses competing for smaller roles,” he said. “These actors should not be excluded from auditioning simply based on their age.”