Artist Arena To Pay Fine To FTC Over Online Privacy Ethics With Minors
October 3, 2012 at 3:40 PM (PT)
ARTIST ARENA, which operates fan websites for the pop stars JUSTIN BIEBER, SELENA GOMEZ, RIHANNA and DEMI LOVATO, has agreed to pay a $1 million civil penalty to settle charges from the FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION that alleged the sites illegally collected personal information about thousands of children, the NEW YORK TIMES reports.
Specifically, the FTC asserted that ARTIST ARENA used the fan websites to collect personal details -- names, e-mail addresses, street addresses and cellphone numbers -- of about 101,000 children aged 12 or younger without their parents’ permission. That goes against the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA, which requires operators of websites to notify parents and obtain verifiable parental consent before collecting, using or disclosing personal information about children younger than 13.
"These were fan sites that knew that a very substantial percentage of users were 12 or under," said FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection Dir. DAVID C. VLADECK said. "There is really no excuse for violations like these."
The sites in question are BIEBERFEVER.COM, SELENAGOMEZ.COM, RIHANNANOW.COM and DEMILOVATOFANCLUB, the latter of which is no longer in operation. The FTC did not accuse the pop stars themselves of any wrongdoing.
FTC rep EDITH RAMIREZ said the settlement still required ratification in court. ARTIST ARENA, a division of WARNER MUSIC GROUP, neither admitted nor denied the agency’s allegations. The fan sites no longer allow children under 13 to register as members.