Last week, a federal judge temporarily blocked the enforcement of a recently enacted California law making it illegal for certain websites to publish actors' ages.
AB 1687, which targets websites that list actors' biographical information, states that websites that "provide employment services to an individual for a subscription payment" must remove a subscriber's age from their website at the subscriber's request, regardless of the whether the website receives the information directly from the user or from outside sources.
The law clearly takes aim at the website IMDb, the Internet Movie Database, which compiles resumes and biographical information of entertainment industry professionals. Worried about age discrimination in Hollywood, the Screen Actors Guild urged state legislators to pass the law to protect their members from employment discrimination, even though anti-discrimination laws already exist on the books. These days, the average American is struggling to scrape together enough money to pay for health insurance and put food on their table, so naturally Hollywood's main concern is that there aren't enough roles out there for older industry professionals.
United States District Court Judge Vince Chhabria ruled that not only would the law likely violate First Amendment, but there was also no definitive proof that requiring websites to remove ages would do anything to help combat age discrimination in Hollywood.
"It's not clear how preventing one mere website from publishing age information could meaningfully combat discrimination at all," Chhabria wrote in his decision, according to Politico. "And even if restricting publication on this one website could confer some marginal anti-discrimination benefit, there are likely more direct, more effective, and less speech-restrictive ways of achieving the same end."
"The statute prevents IMDb from publishing factual information [about the ages of people in the entertainment industry] on its website for public consumption. This is a restriction of non-commercial speech on the basis of content," he added.
SAG-AFTRA General Counsel Duncan Crabtree-Ireland conveyed the group's disappointment in a statement, "We are disappointed that the court has chosen to temporarily halt the State of California’s legal efforts to fully protect its citizens from employment discrimination. We look forward to the upcoming opportunity to present evidence to the Court of how this law will reduce or eliminate the age discrimination facilitated by IMDb.com."
Ironically, many of the celebrities advocating for this law have been some of the most overboard critics of President Donald Trump's alleged systematic destruction of the First Amendment by denying CNN a seat at a press briefing.
Until then, and in absence of a great plastic surgeon, Hollywood's older generation may be forced to hold off on upgrading their mansions and might even have to drive year-old cars. Meanwhile, it's difficult to imagine SAG-AFTRA being able to convince a judge that publishing the ages of the Hollywood elite online is somehow a crime, other than in the Orwellian dystopian fantasies that Hollywood has virtually fetishized over the years.