Fan sites for Bieber allegedly violated children's online privacy law

Website operator penalized $1 million for taking kids' information without parental consent

By Natasha Lennard

Published October 3, 2012 6:50PM (EDT)


A company that operates fan websites for pop stars like Justin Bieber and Rihanna amassed personal information from more than 100,000 children without parental consent, according to a complaint brought by the the Federal Trade Commission

The website operator, Artist Arena, will pay a civil penalty of $1 million, the New York Times reported Wednesday. In collecting personal information like names, addresses and email addresses the company had violated the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which requires operators of websites to "notify parents and obtain verifiable parental consent before collecting, using or disclosing personal information about children younger than 13."

The Times notes that the Artist Arena settlement "comes at a time when the ... [FTC] is preparing to extensively strengthen the children's online privacy protection rule for the first time since its introduction more than a decade ago" in order to keep pace with new digital technologies. The company "neither admitted nor denied the agency’s allegations."

Jon Leibowitz, the chairman of the FTC., said in a statement:

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 it continues to protect kids growing up in the digital age.

Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email

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Children Internet Justin Bieber Online Freedom Privacy