FTC Charges Artist Arena With Violating Kids’ Online Privacy

Fan sites like Bieberfever.com gathered personal data without permission

The Federal Trade Commission filed suit against Warner Music’s Artist Arena—which operates fan sites for performers such as Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato and Rihanna—for violating the online privacy of 100,000 children under the age of 13.

Filed in the federal district court for the southern district of New York, the FTC is asking for a $1 million penalty plus a civil injunction against Artist Arena.

FTC commissioner Edith Ramirez announced the legal action this morning in New York during the annual meeting of the Children’s Advertising Review Unit, the ad industry’s self-regulatory group.

According to the FTC’s complaint, the fan sites collected a host of personal information from children, including their birth date and email addresses, and gave them access to the site. Children were then asked to provide even more personal information before the site obtained parental consent as required under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

“Bieberfever.com got off to a bad start,” Ramirez said. “Somewhere Coppa compliance got lost.”

The case against Artist Arena is the FTC’s 20th case under the 12-year-old statute. To keep pace with kids’ new love affair with mobile and social networking, the FTC has proposed updates to Coppa, which it hopes to finalize by the end of the year, Ramirez said.