Microsoft will pay $20 million in a U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) settlement for illegally collecting personal information from children without any parental consent, the FTC announced on Monday.
The tech company was charged with violating the U.S. Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) by collecting personal information from children that signed up for its Xbox gaming system without notifying their parents or having their consent, the FTC elaborated.
The court’s ruling requires Microsoft to take action to improve minor Xbox customers’ privacy protections. According to the FTC, it will expand COPPA protections to independent game developers with whom Microsoft exchanges children’s data.
“Our proposed order makes it easier for parents to protect their children’s privacy on Xbox and limits what information Microsoft can collect and retain about kids,” said Samuel Levine, director of the FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection.
The law requires online services and websites targeting children under 13 to notify their parents about the personal information collected from their children and obtain verifiable parental consent before collecting it.
From 2015 to 2020, Microsoft retained the data that it collected from children during the account creation process, even when a parent failed to complete the process, according to the complaint.