Warner Music Group's Artist Arena has agreed to pay $1 million to settle charges that it violated the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act by collecting names, email addresses and other personal information from children younger than 13, the Federal Trade Commission announced on Wednesday.
Artist Arena allegedly gathered the information at fan sites for Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez. The company, which also offered newsletter subscriptions, allegedly registered thousands of children who said they were under 13 when they signed up for the service.
COPPA prohibits Web site operators from knowingly collecting personal information from children 12 and under without their parents' consent.
While some of the fan sites appeared to have procedures for obtaining parental consent, those procedures were inadequate, according to the FTC's complaint, filed this week in federal court in New York.
For instance, the company asked children who registered for the Selena Gomez newsletter for their parents' email addresses. Artist Arena then emailed that address to ask the parents to click on a link approve the subscription. But the messages allegedly told parents that if they didn't click on that link, their child's subscription wouldn't go through. In fact, the company "had already registered the child and allowed the child to complete his or her profile without any action by the parent," the FTC said in its complaint.
The settlement agreement also calls for Artist Arena to destroy any information that was improperly collected from children. The agreement still must be approved by a judge.