Microsoft has agreed to pay US$20 million in order to settle charges brought by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over allegations that the tech giant illegally collected personal data from children without obtaining parental consent. The FTC accused Microsoft of violating the US Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by gathering personal information from young users of its Xbox gaming system without informing their parents or obtaining their consent, as well as retaining the collected data.
As part of the settlement, Microsoft is required to enhance privacy protections for child users of its Xbox system, including extending COPPA protections to third-party gaming publishers with whom Microsoft shares children’s data. A spokesperson for Microsoft stated that the company is committed to complying with the order and will update the account creation process, as well as resolve a data retention glitch found in its system.
Samuel Levine, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, said, “Our proposed order makes it easier for parents to protect their children’s privacy on Xbox, and limits what information Microsoft can collect and retain about kids.” He added, “This action should also make it abundantly clear that kids’ avatars, biometric data, and health information are not exempt from COPPA.”
COPPA mandates that online services and websites targeting children under 13 must notify parents about the personal information they collect and obtain verifiable parental consent before collecting and using any personal information of the children. The FTC’s complaint alleged that from 2015 to 2020, Microsoft retained the data it collected from children during the account creation process, even when a parent failed to complete the process, reports Channel News Asia.
Recently, Apple revealed its first mixed reality headset, known as the Vision Pro. This headset is priced at US$3,499 and will be available in the United States in early 2024.
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