IMDb sues California after law passed allowing Hollywood stars to ban people from finding out how old they are
IMDb (The Internet Movie Database) is suing California Attorney General Kamala Harris to question California’s legislation forcing it to remove Hollywood star’s age from their profiles. The complaint filed on Thursday in California federal court is looking to overturn Assembly Bill 1687, which requires IMDb.com to remove the ages or birth dates of public figures in the entertainment industry on its site upon request.
For those unfamiliar, California had passed a law ruling in September that “a commercial online entertainment employment service provider” would have to remove the age of any actor held on the database if requested by the actor.
While considered to be a positive move in fighting age discrimination in the film industry, IMDb has taken up the issue and decided to sue California.
“IMDb shares the worthy goal of preventing age discrimination,” the complaint reads. “But AB 1687 is an unconstitutional law that does not advance, much less achieve, that goal. To the contrary, rather than passing laws designed to address the root problem of age discrimination, the State of California has chosen to chill free speech and undermine public access to factual information.”
IMDb says it is being unfairly targeted and that the law does not deal with the main cause of age discrimination.
“Prejudice and bias, not truthful information, are the root causes of discrimination. This law unfairly targets IMDb.com (which appears to be the only public site impacted by the law) and forces IMDb to suppress factual information from public view. Moreover, the factual information being suppressed from IMDb is available from many other sources, not least including Wikipedia, Google, Microsoft (Bing), and Apple (Siri). As such, AB 1687 sets a dangerous and unconstitutional precedent for other general purpose websites and news sources, and should be deeply troubling to all who care about free speech.”
According to the website, hundreds of millions of people worldwide access its database of Hollywood profiles to access both professional and biographical information, which is hugely provided by IMDb users. Attorney John C. Hueston in the complaint says that the site is happy to remove incorrect information, but asking it to do this is too much.
“IMDb routinely and gladly updates information on IMDb.com in order to correct verified inaccuracies,” writes Hueston. “But it has always been IMDb’s policy not to alter or delete any accurate factual information on the public website. Being compelled to do so not only violates basic free speech principles but undermines the accuracy and reliability of the IMDb.com database on which millions of users rely.”
In conclusion, IMDb’s lawsuit asks the court to “declare that Assembly bill 1687 is unconstitutional and that IMDb cannot be liable for failing to censor factual public information.”
In 2013, IMDb won a case against the actor Junie Hoang, who tried to claim more than $1million from the website after she alleged she had lost out on roles because the site published her real age.