Microsoft Settles with FTC for $20 Million Over Illegal Collection of Children’s Personal Information

Redmond, Washington: Microsoft has agreed to pay a settlement amount of $20 million (£16 million) to the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to resolve charges of illegally collecting personal information from children without parental consent. The tech giant was accused of violating the US Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by collecting and retaining personal data from children who signed up for its Xbox gaming system without proper notification or parental consent.

In a statement released on Monday, the FTC stated that Microsoft had failed to comply with COPPA regulations, which require online services and websites directed towards children under the age of 13 to inform parents about the collection of personal information and obtain verifiable parental consent before using such data.

The complaint filed against Microsoft revealed that from 2015 to 2020, the company retained the personal information it collected from children, even when parents did not complete the account creation process. This retention of data without proper consent was deemed a violation of COPPA guidelines.

Under the settlement agreement, Microsoft will pay $20 million to the FTC and will be required to implement comprehensive measures to ensure compliance with COPPA regulations moving forward. These measures will include providing clear and prominent notice to parents about data collection practices, obtaining verifiable parental consent, and establishing procedures to delete children’s personal information when it is no longer necessary.

The settlement serves as a reminder to technology companies of the importance of safeguarding children’s privacy and complying with COPPA regulations. The FTC’s action aims to protect children’s personal information from unauthorized collection and ensure that parents are given proper control over the data that is collected from their children.

Microsoft has not made any public statements regarding the settlement but is expected to work closely with the FTC to address the issues raised and strengthen its privacy practices in line with regulatory requirements.

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