Warners face fine for violating young fans’ privacy

November 2012

Internet, record labels


The Federal Trade Commission is proposing to issue a civil penalty against a unit of Warner Music Group Corp. The penalty will cost the major $1 million for violating a child privacy law in the operation of fan websites for artists including Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato and Rihanna – the websites were actually run by subsidiary Artist Arena. Commissioner Edith Ramirez revealed the proposed settlement in a speech in New York on Wednesday at the annual meeting of the Children’s Advertising Review Unit, a self-regulatory group for the advertising industry. A judge will need to confirm the settlement. Artist Arena still run the BieberFever website.

“BieberFever.com got off to a bad start … and things got worse from there,” Ramirez said in prepared remarks. The site required visitors to input birthdates and other personal information, and required visitors under 13 to submit a parent’s email address for confirmation, according to a complaint filed  in U.S. District Court in New York, where Warner Music Group is based. But after a month of operation, it let underage visitors register and pay for membership without sending an email to the child’s parents, the complaint said. The actions violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, it said as no verifiable parental consent had been obtained. Warners will also have to delete all data obtained in breach of COPPA rules, and display a link to a government website offering guidance on privacy on all its sites.


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