I’ve been following the age discrimination suit actress Huong Hoang filed agaisnt Amazon.com and IMDb.com for revealing her name for a while now, and it’s worth revisiting now one of the central claims in the case has been revealed. Hoang’s allegations that the companies had committed fraud and violated her privacy have been thrown out, but she’s still got a live consumer protection claim against them. The grounds for those charges? Hoang alleges that Amazon.com and IMDb got her age information from her credit card data.
If that’s proven to be the case, I’m firmly on her side. I believe that age discrimination is a real and persistent problem, and IMDb has, in court filings in the case, underestimated the impact of it. I also believe that journalists have a right to do their jobs, and there’s a legitimate public interest in having access to quality, verified data about actors and actresses, so among other things, we can analyze if the number of jobs women book as they get older drops relative to men. But journalism means you don’t get workarounds. You have to come by that information honestly, whether you’re tracking down public records or paging through old magazines for age information in questionnaires. You don’t get to snoop on people’s credit card information (or for that matter, hack their phones).