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Children at the XBox: U.S. Laws Require Parental Consent

Photo: Panthermedia / IMAGO

The Xbox game consoles are strongly designed to be used with a so-called Xbox account. However, because the manufacturer Microsoft requested and stored more data than was permitted under US law when creating those children's accounts, the company is now paying a fine of 20 million US dollars.

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) had accused Microsoft of violating the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which is intended to protect the personal information of children under the age of 13.

The company had made crucial mistakes in the implementation of the rules: For example, children were asked for their consent for the storage and processing of data for advertising purposes even before parental consent was requested. In addition, the data remained stored on Microsoft's servers even if the parents never agreed.

Microsoft is insightful

The company apologizes for the violation and explains it in a public statement partly with a technical error: It was planned to delete account data after a short waiting period. In practice, however, they remained stored for years. In addition, the company emphasizes that it has long since revised the account creation and is also working to improve the system in the future, as required by the FTC. In the coming months, Microsoft plans to test different forms of age verification.

The FTC has been tracking similar violations by IT companies for some time. Game maker Epic Games reached an agreement with the regulator in December to pay more than half a billion US dollars because it had collected data from children and did not protect young players enough against harassment in chats. In addition, according to the FTC, the manufacturer had used design tricks to entice users to make thoughtless purchases.

Amazon also recently agreed to pay $25 million for storing children's voices. However, the retail giant did not want to admit a mistake.