Microsoft to Pay $20M For Illegally Stored Child Data

Microsoft to Pay $20M For Illegally Stored Child Data
Image copyright: Wikimedia Commons

The Facts

  • Microsoft has agreed to pay the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) a $20M fine to settle charges of illegally collecting and retaining the personal data of children using its Xbox video game console.

  • According to the FTC, Microsoft violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by failing to notify parents or obtain their consent about personal information the corporation gathered from kids under the age of 13.

The Spin

Narrative A

Microsoft not only violated children’s privacy and parental rights, but may also have shared sensitive information with third-party app developers. This settlement comes just months after Epic Games agreed to pay $245M for violating COPPA through an unfair practice that put kids and teens in risky contact with strangers; it’s apparent the FTC will not allow video game producers to profiteer by swindling underaged players with their shady practices.

Narrative B

Although the FTC is finally getting Microsoft to comply with COPPA and take active measures to prevent future violations, it’s unfair to hold only the software majors responsible for “misleading” parents and failing to protect children’s privacy. Video game consoles like Xbox are a luxury, and the COPPA-protected parents who provide such toys to their offspring must also shoulder some burden for ensuring their children use them in responsible and safe ways. It is not just Microsoft responsible for ensuring the safety of minors interacting with their technology.

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