BBB National Programs Archive

CARU Reviews Jonas Brother Fan Site, Recommends Operator Implement Privacy Protections

New York, NY – March 30, 2009 – The Children’s Advertising Review Unit (CARU) of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc., has recommended that Ultrastar Entertainment, the operator of the Website, take steps to assure the site operates in compliance with CARU’s self-regulatory guidelines for children’s advertising and the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA.) The company has taken steps to do so.

The Website came to the attention of CARU through CARU’s routine monitoring practices.  CARU monitors Websites for compliance with CARU’s Self-Regulatory Program for Children’s Advertising, including CARU’s guidelines on Online Privacy Protection, as well as with the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

The Website is a paid membership fan club for the band, The Jonas Brothers, which is popular with tween and teenage children.  Features on the site include message boards and blogs, access to pre-sale concert tickets and member-only contests.

Upon its initial review, CARU was concerned that the site did not obtain actual parental consent before allowing visitors under the age of 13 to register and that the site’s newsletter feature allowed children to easily change their year of birth to reflect an age 13 or over, contrary to CARU’s Guidelines.

Following CARU’s initial inquiry, Ultrastar changed its policy to allow visitors under the age of 13 to register for the e-newsletter only with parental consent.  In order to comply with the Guidelines, the Website removed the tip-off language from the age-collection process.  For visitors under the age of 13, the operator stated it would also collect an email address for a parent to send notification pursuant to COPPA and would no longer collect a full name or a cell phone number from its visitors under 13. 

The company, in its advertiser’s statement, said it has “worked with CARU directly to ensure the site’s compliance, and is making all suggested modifications to the web site. UE also will continue to monitor all of the sites it operates for full CARU compliance.”