Legislation was passed in California on Saturday that permits actors to remove their ages from sites like IMDb.
The Customer Records Bill, which applies to anyone working in the film industry, means that subscribers to a “commercial online entertainment employment service provider” can ask for information about their age to be taken down.
Coming into effect on 1 January 2017, the bill relates to all entertainment database sites that let paid subscribers upload CVs, headshots and other information for potential employers.
The legislation states that it is “to ensure that information obtained on an Internet Web site regarding an individual’s age will not be used in furtherance of employment or age discrimination.”
Both Emma Thompson and Helen Mirren are among actors who have spoken out against ageism in the industry in the past, with the former calling it “completely s**t” and Mirren denouncing it as “f**king outrageous”.
Actors union SAG-AFTRA had lobbied for the legislation. In a recent column for The Hollywood Reporter which supported the bill, its President, Gabrielle Carteris, wrote: “It is time to stop the ageism that permeates Hollywood’s casting process. This problem exists for all performers, but most distinctly for women. Performers create characters and often employ illusion to do so. That’s acting.”
People in the tech community, however, opposed the bill, saying it suppressed free speech. Internet Association spokesman Noah Theran said: “We remain concerned with the bill and the precedent it will set of suppressing factual information on the internet.”
But will the bill be that effective, given that a simple search on Google or Wikipedia can provide the age of Hollywood actors?
The bill’s author, Ian Calderon, explained that the law was more for actors who are not as well-known or are not yet house-hold names.
“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.”