Fed. Judge Blocks IMDb Age Discrimination Law

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On Wednesday, a federal judge in California issued a preliminary injunction that bans the state from enacting last year’s bill AB 1687 that prohibited websites like IMDb from listing an actor’s age if the actor objects to it. The purpose of the bill was to prevent age discrimination in youth-obsessed entertainment industry. But the opponents claimed the bill is unconstitutionality in that it violates the First Amendment.

When judge evaluates issues that restrict non-commercial speech on the basis of its content, there must be a showing that “the restriction is ‘actually necessary’ to serve a compelling government interest.” In other words, when the state enacts a law that restricts anyone from publishing factual information (regarding age in this case), the state must show that the restriction is “actually necessary” to serve a “compelling government interest.”

In this case, the court found that, while fighting age discrimination is a compelling gov’t interest, the state has not shown that the bill is “necessary” to combat age discrimination. Specifically, the decision states:

To be sure, the government has identified a compelling goal – preventing age discrimination in Hollywood. But the government has not shown how AB 1687 is “necessary” to advance that goal. In fact, it’s not clear how preventing one mere website from publishing age information could meaningfully combat discrimination at all. And even if restricting publication on this one website could confer some marginal antidiscrimination benefit, there are likely more direct, more effective, and less speech-restrictive ways of achieving the same end. 

Photo Model: Lea Ann.

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