- Microsoft is set to pay $20 million to the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for charges linked to the illegal collection of personal data from minors without parental consent, violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).
- The FTC alleges that Microsoft collected data from children under 13 from 2015 to 2020 and disclosed some of this information to third parties.
- An FTC order requires Microsoft to enhance its privacy protections for child Xbox users and extend COPPA protections to third-party gaming publishers with whom it shares children’s data.
Tech giant Microsoft has agreed to a $20 million settlement over charges leveled by the US Federal Trade Commission that the company illegally gathered personal data from children under the age of 13 without the consent of a guardian, in violation of COPPA.
The legal ramifications of such a move are significant, given the federal mandate requiring online platforms catering to young children to actively seek parental consent before gathering and using a child’s personal information.
The FTC’s allegations spotlight an unethical data collection process from 2015 to 2020, during which Microsoft supposedly collected data from minors while setting up accounts, even when parental consent was not obtained. Moreover, some of this data was reportedly shared with third-party entities, further complicating the matter.
The substantial settlement figure does not mark the end of Microsoft’s obligations. As part of the settlement, the FTC has ordered the company to revise its privacy protection measures for Xbox users under 13.
Furthermore, these safeguards must extend to third-party game publishers who receive children’s data from Microsoft. The COPPA-protected data encompasses images and biometric and health information used by young gamers to create avatars.
The order, pending federal court approval, signifies a substantial shift in Microsoft’s policies concerning data collection and consent. The changes aim to uphold children’s privacy rights and safeguard their data against misuse, underscoring the importance of transparency and ethical practices in the digital age.
When our children switch on their Xbox consoles, we expect that they will experience the pure joy of gaming, not become unsuspecting targets for corporate data collection.
The recent FTC settlement with Microsoft over alleged violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) sends a clear message: Enough is enough.
This issue isn’t just about the $20 million fine Microsoft now has to pay. It’s about a multi-billion dollar corporation knowingly infringing on our children’s right to privacy, revealing an alarming lack of ethical judgement.
Microsoft’s alleged actions in collecting and sharing data from children without parental consent present a disquieting image of tech corporations.
Such practices highlight an apparent disregard for the laws put in place to protect our children. Is this the standard we wish to set for our future leaders?
The FTC’s intervention is a move in the right direction, but it’s only the first step. It’s high time we hold tech giants like Microsoft accountable, demanding transparency in their actions.
Our children are not data points to be bartered with third parties; they are our future, deserving of respect and protection.
This episode should serve as a wakeup call for tech companies. Just as parents have a responsibility to safeguard their children, these corporations have a duty to uphold ethical standards. The lines have been drawn. We expect better, and we will accept nothing less.