NEWS

Fan Website Company Settles Children’s Privacy Charges

By John Wagley

A company that operates fan sites for artists including Justin Bieber, Rihanna, and Demi Lovato has agreed to pay $1 million to settle Federal Trade Commission (FTC) charges it illegally collected data on about 100,000 children.

The FTC charged that the company, Artist Arena, violated the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) as well as the FTC’s COPPA Rule, which require that companies obtain parents’ consent before they collect, use, or disclose personal information on children under 13. 

According to the FTC, Artist, a unit of Warner Music Group Corp., ran sites where children could register to join a fan club, create profiles, and post on members’ walls. Children could also provide information and receive newsletters. The FTC alleges that Artist claimed that it wouldn’t collect children’s personal information without parental consent. But the company allegedly collected children’s names, addresses, e-mail addresses, birthdates, gender, and other information without such consent.

Artist registered more than 25,000 children under the age of 13 and collected partial information from almost 75,000 children who started but didn’t finish the registration process. As part of the settlement, Artist will need to delete the data.

The settlement does not constitute an admission by the defendants of a legal violation, the FTC notes. The proposed settlement will also need to be approved by a judge, according to the agency.

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