Sony BMG to pay 1 million dollars to settle privacy charges

Sony BMG Music Entertainment agreed to pay 1 million dollars to settle a civil suit brought by the US Federal Trade Commission. The FTC charged Sony with improperly collecting and disclosing online personal data from children under 13.


AFP - Sony BMG Music Entertainment has agreed to pay one million dollars to settle charges it violated US law by collecting personal information online from children under the age of 13, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) said Thursday.

Sony BMG, a subsidiary of Sony Corp. of America, the US arm of the Japanese electronics giant, agreed to the payment as part of a settlement with the FTC over charges it violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

The FTC had alleged that Sony BMG, through its music fan websites, had improperly collected and disclosed personal information from thousands of children under the age of 13, without their parents' consent.

"Sites with social networking features, like any websites, need to get parental consent before collecting kids' personal information," FTC chairman William Kovacic said in a statement. "Sony Music is paying the penalty for falling down on its COPPA obligations."

Sony BMG represents hundreds of musicians and entertainers including many popular with children and teenagers, the FTC said, and operates more than 1,000 websites for its talent.

Users are required to submit their date of birth to register for the sites, the FTC said, and on 196 sites, Sony BMG knowingly collected personal information from at least 30,000 underage children without parental consent.

It said this allowed children to interact with adults through comments,  message boards and other forums.

The FTC said the civil penalty to be paid by Sony BMG matched the previous largest penalty in a COPPA case, the one million dollar settlement agreed to in September 2006 by social networking website on similar charges.

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