October 4, 2012

Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber fan sites sued for breaking law

Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber, plus Demi Lovato and other hot pop stars draw thousands of teens to special fan sites on the Internet, but not all the websites are run by the stars, themselves, and not all are legally operated. A lawsuit filed Tuesday by the Justice Department, in a federal court in New York City, accused fan website operator Artist Arena of gathering the information of more than 100,000 members under the age of 13, without the consent of their parents, reports E! Online. Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber fans need to watch out who might be asking for their birthday. Or for their money.

Artist Arena encouraged underage fan club members to establish profiles on their site, allowing them to communicate with other members and requiring personal data such as full name, birth date, and even cell phone numbers. This action, states the lawsuit, violates the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act safeguarding minors under 13 years of age.

As of March 8, 2012, Artist Arena changed its practices and began discouraging members from sharing personal information. But the organization is still in possession of huge amounts of sensitive data from Selena Gomez and Justin Bieber fans, which could be used to create false identities. The lawsuit is seeking $16,000 in damages for each violation, as well as an injunction against site operations.

Meanwhile, Artist Arena has closed all its sites except for BieberFever.com, which charges a yearly membership fee of $99. What do members get that they couldn’t have for free? Not much, but they do get access to pre-public ticket sales for upcoming concerts. Sounds like this one is still taking advantage of younger fans, who could put $99 to better use.

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