It’s no secret that Hollywood can be cruel to aging talent. Now, a 40-year-old Texas actress who lost acting gigs is taking Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) to court, saying the company used confidential credit-card details to publish her real age in its online movie database.
In a “Jane Doe” complaint filed in Seattle federal court, the actress says that Amazon added her birth date to her professional profile on its Internet Movie Database, a popular site for movie buffs and those in the film industry. The actress claims that she did not list her age on her profile but that IMDb, which is wholly owned by Amazon, added it all the same. She claims the company discovered her age by intercepting her credit-card information without permission when she purchased an “industry insider” upgrade in the hopes of getting more work.
The actress, who uses an Americanized stage name to avoid the “cultural disadvantage” of her real Asian name, says that the credit-card interception is the only way the company could have learned her real age. She says IMDb refuses to remove her birth date from her profile and that she has since lost work because “lesser-known 40-year-old actresses are not in demand in the movie business.”
The actress says that Amazon’s conduct amounts to fraud and breach of contract in light of an IMDb subscriber agreement that promises credit-card information will be encrypted and that Amazon will handle personal information “carefully and sensibly.” The lawsuit, which seeks $75,000 plus $1 million in punitive damages, also says Amazon breached the state of Washington’s privacy and consumer protection laws.
This is not the first time that Amazon has been sued for allegedly revealing personal details about an actress. Eriko Tamuro, a Los Angeles woman was once a Britney Spears-like teen idol in Tokyo, settled a lawsuit with IMDb in 2007 after the site posted her real name and birth date.
Amazon’s privacy practices have come under renewed scrutiny in recent weeks since the company launched the Kindle Fire, a tablet device that uses a new type of data-storing browser that makes it quicker for consumers to surf websites and shop online. Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-MA) last week sent an open letter to Amazon’s CEO comparing the tablet to Orwell’s Big Brother and requesting information about the company’s plans to safeguard consumer information.
Amazon did not immediately return a request for comment about the lawsuit, which was first reported via Twitter by law professor Eric Goldman.