The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) identified a number of celebrity fan sites which illegally collected the details of children without their parents’ consent. The operator of these websites has agreed to pay $1 million (800,000 EUR) to settle the charges brought against it.
According to the FTC, Artist Arena – which runs Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato fan sites – has violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by improperly collecting the personal details of children under 13.
Although the company claimed not to be collecting the personal information of children, it actually registered over 25,000 youths aged less than 13.
Furthermore, these are only the ones who completed the registration process. The details of another 75,000 kids – who didn’t complete the registration process - were harvested.
The FTC reveals that sites such as www.RihannaNow.com, www.DemiLovatoFanClub.net, www.BeiberFever.com, and www.SelenaGomez.com allowed children to register accounts, create profiles and post on the walls of other members.
Artist Arena claimed that it would not collect the private information or register the accounts of children under 13 without parental consent. However, these rules were clearly disregarded, names, addresses, email addresses, birth dates, gender and other data being collected without asking for the approval of parents.
“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. 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,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz.
The operator will not only have to pay the $1 million (800,000 EUR) fine, but it will also have to delete all the private information it illegally collected from youths.