Celebrity fan sites fined for COPPA violations

Artist Arena will pay $1 million for improperly collecting children’s personal information

A music fan website operator must pay a hefty fine for violating the rights of young Justin Bieber fans.

Last week, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed charges against Artist Arena, a division of Access Industries Inc.’s Warner Music Group that operates online fan clubs for pop stars, for violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The act makes it illegal to collect personal information from website visitors younger than 13 without parental consent.

According to the FTC’s filing, Artist Arena illegally collected information—including names, addresses, email addresses, birth dates and gender—from more than 100,000 underage users who visited its fan sites for Bieber, Rihanna, Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez.

The same day the FTC lobbed its accusation, Artist Arena proposed a settlement in which it will pay $1 million to settle the alleged wrongdoing, which it doesn’t admit to or deny. It also promised to delete any information it collected that violated COPPA and post a link on all of its sites to FTC information about children’s online privacy protection. A judge hasn’t yet approved the settlement.

“Marketers need to know that even a bad case of Bieber Fever doesn’t excuse their legal obligation to get parental consent before collecting personal information from children,” FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said in a press release. “The FTC is in the process of updating the COPPA Rule to ensure that it continues to protect kids growing up in the digital age.”

Read the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post for more about the privacy violations.

Read more InsideCounsel stories about COPPA and online privacy:

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act grows up

California Senate passes social media privacy legislation

FTC settles complaint over violation of child privacy laws

Illinois passes social media privacy law to safeguard employee passwords

Technology: The privacy perils of mobile technology

FTC calls for more online privacy

Contributing Author

Ashley Post

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