Microsoft fined by FTC for illegally keeping minors’ private data

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Technology and gaming giant, Microsoft has been fined $20 million by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) after their investigation revealed that the company has illegally collected personal information of children using Xbox consoles.

According to the FTC, Bill Gates’ Microsoft not only collected the data violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act but also retained it for longer than necessary attracting an order filed by the Department of Justice on behalf of the FTC stating the steps requiring Microsoft to protect the privacy of child users on Xbox.

Addressing the issue, Microsoft claimed that data retention was due to a glitch in the systems and that the company has now deleted all the data. Furthermore, the company reassured that the data will not be sold or monetized in any way whatsoever.

“During the investigation, we identified a technical glitch where our systems did not delete account creation data for child accounts where the account creation process was started but not completed,” said Microsoft in their official blog addressing the issue.

Under-age players to require parental re-consent

Players under the age of 13 who created an account prior to May 2021 will require parental re-consent for their Xbox accounts. New players creating accounts will be required to put in date of birth first which will let the company know if the account is for someone under the age of 13 and requires parental consent.

The company also revealed that they are working on “next-generation identity and age validation” as a secured, one time process. The process will start soon with gathering feedback from users for creating and improving the new system.

Microsoft is currently trying to complete its acquisition of Activision Blizzard which is halted by the FTC and the CMA. Contrary to the company’s plan to close the deal as soon as possible, it seems that they will need to wait a bit longer with the CMA blocking the merger and FTC handing them a scheduling order.