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New Law Will Require IMDB To Remove Actors' Ages If Requested


If you're trying to figure out how old an actor is, it's not hard. It's about to get harder. Sometimes you can just ask. Gabrielle Carteris, for one, isn't shy.

GABRIELLE CARTERIS: I am 55 years old. I'm going to be 56. I don't have a problem sharing my age.

SIEGEL: Carteris is president of the union SAG-AFTRA, which, by the way, also represents many of NPR's journalists. She lobbied for a California bill that was just signed into law this weekend that requires subscription sites that casting and hiring directors use like IMDb Pro to remove someone's age or birthday from their profile if requested.


The goal is to prevent age discrimination. Carteris says this law isn't so much for big celebrities. Their ages are already very public and easy to find. The law is designed for the working performer.

CARTERIS: Who wanted the opportunity to be able just to be seen for the first time or to be able to go into a room when they're not known and be able to show their work and not have the subconscious bias of their age being the deciding factor of whether they should be able to come in that room or not for an audition.

SIEGEL: She says that for her this is personal. She was cast in her breakout role in "Beverly Hills, 90210" in 1990.

CARTERIS: At that time these subscription sites did not exist. I was 29 years old, and I was auditioning for a 16-year-old role, and I was lying about my age.

JONATHAN HANDEL: The question is, where are the boundary lines between the First Amendment and discrimination law?

SHAPIRO: That's Jonathan Handel, an attorney and contributing editor for The Hollywood Reporter. IMDb did not respond to our interview request and a similar website called Studio System declined to comment. But some groups like the Internet Association have spoken out, saying this law sets a dangerous precedent. Here's Jonathan Handel again.

HANDEL: I think that there will be free speech and right-to-know challenges. You know, the ethos of the Internet and of Silicon Valley is very much, you know, sort of the information wants to be free. And a law that allows this kind of restriction runs counter that.

SIEGEL: Even though it's a California law, Handel says it affects the web no matter where the server is or where the readers are.

HANDEL: This law affects any website that is an entertainment database and it has a paid subscription option for the people that appear in the database and has what the law calls minimum contacts with California. IMDb is actually owned by Amazon. Whether it's run out of California, whether it's one out of Seattle, Wash., doesn't matter. They have a lot of California users. They know it, and that means that as far as a matter of jurisdiction, they would be covered by this law.

SHAPIRO: The law is set to go into effect January 1. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.