Microsoft fined $20 million by the FTC after illegally collecting children’s personal info

by Danny Craig  · 
Microsoft fined $20 million by the FTC after illegally collecting children’s personal info

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has found the tech giant guilty of illegally collecting the personal information of children via the Xbox sign-up process, leading to a $20 million fine.

The details:

  • The FTC has issued a statement confirming that Microsoft will pay a $20 million fine after it was discovered that the Xbox Live sign-up process violates the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by collecting personal information from children without notifying them or obtaining permission from their parents. Xbox was also accused of illegally retaining the information between 2015 and 2020, which it admitted but claimed was a "technical glitch.”
  • The sign-up process required the person signing up to provide a phone number alongside other personal information, even if the user stated that they were under the age of 13, as well as a box to agree to Microsoft providing information to its advertising partners. Parents were required to complete the sign-up process, but only after providing the information, which was saved for years.
  • CVP of Xbox Player Services Dave McCarthy said in a new statement that the situation was a "data retention glitch" and that the company is "committed to complying with the order to continue improving upon our safety measures." The Xbox engineering team "fixed the glitch, deleted the data, and implemented practices to prevent the error from recurring," according to McCarthy. "The data was never used, shared, or monetized," and the new sign-up process requires "verified parental consent" before collecting any personal information.

More Microsoft news:

  • Microsoft may withdraw Activision's operations from the UK as it pursues its acquisition of the publisher. The UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) blocked the merger in April, claiming that it would give Microsoft too much control over the cloud gaming market, which Microsoft has since appealed. If the CMA’s ruling is not overturned, Microsoft could move its operations to mainland Europe and serve the UK via a distributor.
  • Wolfenstein developer MachineGames is hard at work on a new first-person shooter, which many believe will be Wolfenstein 3. A job posting at the studio requests that applicants have prior experience with the developer's titles, with the majority of its catalog consisting of Wolfenstein games.
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