Microsoft ordered to pay $20 million for illegally collecting children’s personal information

Parents focused on protecting their children’s internet privacy had a win recently in court. Microsoft, the company behind the popular Xbox Live interactive gaming platform, was found in violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA Rule). Keep reading for more from our Georgia cybercrime attorney.

microsoft child consent

Internet giant blames a “data retention glitch” for the lapse

How did Microsoft child privacy settings run afoul of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to the tune of $20 million?
By illegally collecting and retaining the personal data of users it knew were 13 and younger.

Microsoft privacy violations included keeping the name, phone number, date of birth, and email addresses of users who indicated they were under 13, even users who didn’t complete the account set-up.

When users set up an account with Microsoft’s Xbox Live, they enter their name and contact information and are then prompted to agree to the terms and conditions in the Microsoft consent of use policy. However, this policy had a pre-checked box stating that the user consented to Microsoft collecting and retaining their personal data and sharing that information with other advertisers.

What is COPPA?

COPPA covers children-directed online services (not just websites) and entities that have actual knowledge that they are collecting data regarding kids under 13. Video game publishers working with Microsoft, for example, would be informed when a user is under 13.

COPPA’s protected personal information isn’t just a name, email address, and phone number. It also includes relevant identifying details like vital signs, biometrics, health data, avatars, and any information about the parents disclosed in association with the child’s account.

What does Microsoft child consent mean for parents?

First, Microsoft isn’t the only large corporation collecting your personal information. If you look closely at the terms and conditions of electronics and apps you use, like fitness trackers or VR games, you may notice a clause permitting the company to keep and share the personal data you disclose.
So, read the terms and conditions closely and weigh whether companies collecting and sharing data is worth using the app, website, or online gaming system.

You may also be eligible to collect a portion of the $20 million settlement for the invasion of your child’s privacy. Do you have a child under 13 who has used Xbox or Xbox Live for gaming?

Contact the legal team at Griffin Durham Tanner & Clarkson LLC today in Atlanta at (404) 891-9150 or in Savannah at (912) 867-9140 today to learn your eligibility and legal options.