Sony BMG Music Entertainment quickly paid $1 million to settle charges that it collected and disclosed the personal information of tens of thousands of children without their parents' consent.
The Federal Trade Commission, who leveled the complaint against the music label, said the civil penalty is the largest ever to be paid in a case alleging violation of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act.
"Sites with social networking features, like any Web sites, need to get parental consent before collecting kids' personal information," said FTC Chairman William E. Kovacic in a statement. The Act mandates that the personal information of children under 13 not be collected without parental consent.
The FTC's complaint was filed in federal court in New York Wednesday afternoon. The settlement was submitted for the court's consideration at the same time.
The FTC said Sony Music, which operates more 1,000 sites for its artists and labels, "knowingly collected personal information from at least 30,000 underage children without first obtaining their parents' consent" on 196 of its sites.
The FTC has ordered Sony to delete the personal information collected in violation of the rule. For the next five years, Sony also must provide links to FTC consumer education materials on Web sites that target or collect personal information on children.
A representative for Sony Music did not immediately return a voicemail seeking comment.