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Saturday, July 20, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Celebrity Fan Sites|Popped for $1 Million

MANHATTAN (CN) - Artist Arena, which run websites for fans of Rihanna, Justin Bieber and others, will pay $1 million to settle FTC charges of collecting information on children without parents' consent, according to federal prosecutors and wire reports.

The United States sued Artist Arena LLC in Federal Court, alleging widespread violations of the Federal Trade Commission's Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule.

The defendant allegedly runs websites for Rihanna, Bieber, Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez, none of whom are parties to the case.

Fan sites RihannaNow, DemiLovatoFanClub, BieberFever, and SelenaGomez are popular with children, including kids under 13, according to the complaint.

Most of the sites have a social media component which lets kids create online profiles, comment on "walls," and send and receive friend requests.

During the registration process, Artist Arena collects personal information from children - names, email addresses, cell phone numbers and birthdays - without providing "direct notice" to parents of the websites' information practices, and without obtaining "verifiable parental consent," according to the complaint.

Though most of the fan sites send confirmation emails to parents, prosecutors say Artist Arena collects and maintains personal information on thousands of children who don't finish their registrations.

"In connection with its operation of RihannaNow.com, DemiLovatoFanClub.net, BieberFever.com, and SelenaGomez.com, defendant collected, used, and/or disclosed personal information from approximately 101,363 children in violation of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule," the complaint states.

Uncle Sam seeks an injunction and civil penalty of $1 million, which Artist Arena has agreed to pay, according to wire service reports.

Artist Arena did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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