Artist Arena, the division of Warner Music Group behind fan sites for pop music stars like Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Rihanna and Demi Lovato, has agreed to a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission. The New York Times reports that the company has agreed to pay a $1 million civil penalty for illegally collecting personal information from children.
The pop stars themselves haven’t been accused of any misconduct. But because Artist Arena asked for details like birth dates in order to let fans create online profiles, the FTC argued that the company knew very well that it violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (Coppa) by collecting the addresses and cellphone numbers of roughly 101,000 users aged 12 or younger without parental consent or notification.
If you think that’s bad, you have to hear what Ronald McDonald has been up to.
The settlement agreement arrives just as the FTC wants to adopt major changes to outdated laws regarding online child privacy protection. Companies like Apple, Facebook, and Google submitted comments which warned that “some of the proposed changes were so unworkable that they could deter companies from providing sites and online services to children,” says the Times.
The only upside in the seemingly intractable problem of protecting children, who are pretty adept at getting around those protections, without negatively affecting the rest of the Internet is that the Chairman of the FTC came thisclose to uttering the word “Belieber.”
“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,” Jon Leibowitz, the chairman of the F.T.C., said in a statement.