FTC: Bieber fan site operator 'collected children data'

Justin Bieber Justin Bieber's fan site BieberFever.com asked users under 13 to put in personal data to register

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The operator that set up fan websites for several pop stars has agreed to pay $1m (£0.6m) to settle charges that it collected personal data about children.

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) had alleged that Artist Arena collected e-mails, birth dates, and names of about 100,000 children under 13-years-old, without parental consent.

The operator ran sites for Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez and Rihanna.

Several of the sites are now run by other businesses.

The singers themselves were not accused of any wrongdoing.

Artist Arena - which was taken over by Warner Music Group in December 2010 - agreed to pay the fine but has not admitted any wrongdoing.

It is now required to delete any information collected in violation of the law. The settlement must still be approved by a judge.

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

'False claims'

According to the FTC, Artist Arena's sites had allowed underage users to register to join its fan clubs, subscribe to newsletters, create profiles and post on other members' walls.

The watchdog said that the firm had falsely claimed that it would not collect personal information or activate children's accounts without prior parental consent.

The Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (Coppa) states that websites must get such permission before collecting or disclosing personal data about children younger than 13.

The FTC's complaint said that an email was sent to parents saying that if they did not wish to approve registration, no further action would be required. But, it said, the children were registered anyway.

Artist Arena continues to run BieberFever.com, but no longer manages RihannaNow.com, DemiLovatoFanClub.net or SelenaGomez.com.

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