Artist Arena LLC—an operator of fan web sites for Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Rihanna, and Demi Lovato—has agreed to pay $1 million to settle the Federal Trade Commission's charges that the sites violated the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act. Artist Arena allegedly collected personal information, such as name, e-mail address, street address, and phone number, from children under the age of 13 without their parents' consent. According to the FTC's complaint, filed in the Southern District of New York federal court, under-13 fans could register to use the websites. During the registration process, the sites asked users to submit personal details, including birth dates, allowing them to create online profiles, post messages, and sign up for newsletters. The registration process allowed fans under 13 to register, without asking for parental consent, as required by COPPA. The FTC pointed out in its complaint that the sites should have: (1) notified the children's parents of what information it collected from children, how it used the information, or its third-party disclosure practices; and (2) receive verifiable parental consent before the collection, use, or disclosure of the children's personal information. The Southern District of New York must uphold the terms of the settlement before it is official. The FTC did not charge the pop stars with any wrongdoing.
TIP: As promised by the FTC, COPPA enforcement is on the rise. Companies that collect information from children under 13 need to first obtain parental consent. The other option is to create a neutral age-screen and block children under 13 from providing personally-identifiable information.