Jerry Brown, Californian Governor, has recently signed controversial legislation (AB 1687) requiring that entertainment industry websites, such as IMDB, would be required to remove an actor’s age from databases and lists, if it was requested by the actor.

jerry brownThis is legislation that could have implication across the entertainment industries beyond the US market.  Legislators in other countries are watching with interest.  At a time when there are active discussions about the protection of personal information on the internet, the protection of professional information is a broader discussion, but one that garners an equally emotional response.

screen-shot-2016-09-26-at-13-08-51“Subscribers should have control over whether their age and date of birth are posted on subscription websites used for employment purposes,” Calderon said, when the measure passed the Senate Judiciary Committee in June.  “AB 1687 provides a necessary clarification in the law that will help prevent age-based discrimination for individuals seeking employment in the entertainment industry.”

SAG-AFTRA lobbied for the legislation with President Gabrielle Carteris urging members last week to contact Brown.

“Age discrimination is a major problem in our industry, and it must be addressed,” she said in a Sept. 16 post. “SAG-AFTRA has been working hard for years to stop the career damage caused by the publication of performers’ dates of birth on online subscription websites used for casting like IMDb. We are now in the final stages of securing the enactment of a California law that would help combat age discrimination by giving performers the right to request the removal of their date of birth when it’s included on online subscription sites.”

Some, in favour of keeping the status quo, argued that details about accurate age information across websites actually suppresses free speech.

Providers have been given a window of five days to comply, which is considered a very short amount of time considering the great number of actors involved, and the potential information requiring updates.

SAG-AFTRA, which reps about 165,000 performers, said Saturday, “SAG-AFTRA has been working hard for years to stop the career damage caused by the publication of performers’ dates of birth on online subscription websites used for casting like IMDb and StudioSystem. Currently, many websites used for casting proactively present birthdates and ages to casting decision makers who often can’t avoid seeing this information even if they try. This law will help improve the working lives of all SAG-AFTRA members and aspiring performers.”

In a statement Carteris issued this passage:

“On behalf of everyone in the industry who has struggled with age discrimination, whose opportunities to showcase their talent may have been blocked, I want to thank Gov. Brown, and the AB 1687 bill’s author, Assembly member Ian Calderon, and all the California lawmakers who were instrumental in this effort. I am also grateful to my good friends California Federation of Labor President Art Pulaski, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and Congressmen Ted Lieu and Brad Sherman who strongly supported this legislation.”