FTC cops nab Sony for COPPA violation


The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) requires that companies refrain from collecting, maintaining and disclosing personal information about children under the age of 13 without parental consent. Sony BMG Music Entertainment is going to be out $1M for failing to live up to the regs.

FTC notes that Sony BMG operates over 1K musical sites, and that on 196 of them, “knowingly collected personal information from at least 30,000 underage children without first obtaining their parents’ consent, in violation of COPPA. Many of these sites also enable children to create personal fan pages, review artists’ albums, upload photos or videos, post comments on message boards and in online forums, and engage in private messaging. In this way, children were able to interact with Sony Music fans of all ages, including adults.”

FTC said Sony BMG not only failed to provide sufficient notice to parents, it actually accepted membership applications from children who provided a correct birth date that proved from the get-go that they were under the age of 13.

RBR/TVBR observation: Most broadcasters who wish to have a successful future are building an effective web presence to the best of their ability, and this should serve as a full scale red alert warning. The category is “protecting children,” and just about every politician, bureaucrat and watchdog in Washington will jump on an opportunity to protect children with unrestrained zeal. Make absolutely sure that your web operation is on the right side of the regs.