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Justin Bieber, Rihanna Fan Sites Illegally Tracked Preteens

By - Source: Federal Trade Commission | B 18 comments
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A company that maintains fan sites for Justin Bieber and Rhanna faces a $1 million fine for collecting personal data from preteens without permission.

It's a little scary to see a website pop up with a message announcing that it uses cookies to keep tabs on your browsing info "to improve the site." It's even scarier to think that there are fan sites out there on the Internet silently tracking minor children aged twelve and younger without permission.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) filed a complaint in a New York district court on Tuesday against Artist Arena LLC, a company that creates and maintains fan websites for popular celebrities like Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez and Rihanna. The websites listed in the FTC complaint included RihannaNow.com, DemiLovatoFanClub.net, BieberFever.com and SelenaGomez.com.

According to the FTC, these four sites allowed children to register to join a fan club, create profiles, and post on the walls of other members. They also allowed preteens to provide information for subscribing to the site's fan newsletter. The complaint states that Artist Arena LLC knowingly registered over 25,000 children under the age of 13. The company also collected and maintained personal data from an additional 75,000 children who began the registration process but did not finish.

"Artist Arena falsely claimed that it would not collect children’s personal information without prior parental consent and that it would not activate a child’s registration without parental consent," the FTC said on Thursday. Information obtained from the children included names, addresses, email addresses, birthdates, gender and other information, the FTC said.

Collecting information without parental consent is a violation of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) which states that websites must give special treatment to children 12 and under, and must obtain parental permission prior to collecting their information. Artist Arena's penalty was a $1 million fine and an order to delete all collected information that violated COPPA among other requirements.

"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," said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz.

The FTC said on Thursday that Artist Arena LLC agreed to settle for $1 million USD bar future violations of COPPA. However the settlement must be approved by a judge before the case is closed. Currently the FTC is working on updated COPPA rules that will make it even harder for companies and teen-focused websites to collect data from minors without parental permission.

The complaint can be obtained as a PDF here.

This thread is closed for comments
  • 3 Hide
    greghome , October 5, 2012 5:16 AM
    Why am I not surprised? :/ 
  • 5 Hide
    joytech22 , October 5, 2012 5:21 AM
    Not surprised... at all.
  • 0 Hide
    jupiter optimus maximus , October 5, 2012 5:50 AM
    What did you expect from a person called Bieber? Sooner or later, he was going to look for beavers.
  • Display all 18 comments.
  • 0 Hide
    jupiter optimus maximus , October 5, 2012 5:52 AM
    jupiter optimus maximusWhat did you expect from a person called Bieber? Sooner or later, he was going to look for beavers.

    It just happen to be at the wrong place, i may add.
  • -2 Hide
    master_chen , October 5, 2012 6:18 AM
    Insert obligatory pedobear joke ITT.
  • 0 Hide
    therabiddeer , October 5, 2012 6:30 AM
    Cant believe its only $1 million. Imagine if that information was stolen and posted on the internet... thats risking a lot of kids.
  • -2 Hide
    LORD_ORION , October 5, 2012 8:27 AM
    One site out of millions got caught because they advertised they were breaking the law to their users...

    Your personal information is being shipped outside of the borders of your country because privacy laws cannot be enforced this way.
  • -2 Hide
    The_Trutherizer , October 5, 2012 8:29 AM
    Yeah $1mil is probably peanuts for these guys. This kind of thing should be slapped down. Just because we adults have to suffer under the ever watchful eye of the tracking companies children should be allowed a little childhood peace and serenity.
  • -2 Hide
    freggo , October 5, 2012 8:47 AM
    ...and yet Yahoo gets away with making hard core porn available to teens without any age check (except a warning that you have to be 18 to continue to Yahoo Groups).

  • 1 Hide
    knowom , October 5, 2012 9:52 AM
    This is the kind sites you actually want to see get trolled by Anonymous or Lulsec.
  • -3 Hide
    mrmaia , October 5, 2012 12:06 PM
    What's the difference from these sites to Facebook? From what I could read, at least those sites don't sell your data to whoever wants to pay for it.
  • 0 Hide
    back_by_demand , October 5, 2012 1:09 PM
    Justin Bieber, Rihanna Fan Sites Illegally Tracked Preteens

    Of course they did, no one else is a fan!
  • -2 Hide
    infernocy , October 5, 2012 1:21 PM
    Justin Bieber, Rihanna Fan Sites Illegally Tracked Preteens

    can you please tell me who else is just stupid enough to go to those sites , and i guess those preteens are 99% girls
  • -3 Hide
    infernocy , October 5, 2012 1:25 PM
    Also i dont really care about this make up charges anymore cos all of the websites actually not force you to put your info , you put your info on your own will ,and people post there whole address --- so these are so fake , fuck you gov , you do anything to make money
  • -3 Hide
    annymmo , October 5, 2012 3:10 PM
    I don't get why the age difference is so played out.

    Seriously companies want to track everyone! And most adults have more risks associated with this behaviour (porn) than kids.
  • 0 Hide
    rosen380 , October 5, 2012 3:22 PM
    So the fine for downloading an MP3 is about the same as collecting information on a couple thousand kids...? Great.
  • 0 Hide
    COLGeek , October 5, 2012 4:08 PM
    So, how can this standard possibly be enforced?

    How do you verify that a user is a 12 year old girl or a 40 year old man pretending to be a 12 year old girl?
  • 1 Hide
    beayn , October 7, 2012 12:13 PM
    freggo...and yet Yahoo gets away with making hard core porn available to teens without any age check (except a warning that you have to be 18 to continue to Yahoo Groups).
    Doesn't every porn site do that? What other method would you have them use to check for under 18? Ask them who the president was in 1985? They'd just google it.
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