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After fine, Xbox rolls out new parental controls

After a massive fine and stinging rebuke, Microsoft is bowing to demands by US regulators.

Microsoft has announced it is improving Xbox’s data collection processes around accounts for children after a fine and rebuke from American regulators.  

It told registered users: “On 5 June 2023, we entered into a settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to resolve allegations that our previous account creation process for Xbox Live improperly collected information from children without properly notifying and getting permission from their parents. As part of the settlement, we’re writing to let you know about privacy settings to protect children playing on your Xbox.”

The FTC had announced that Microsoft would pay $20-million to settle its charges that it violated the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). It was found to have collected personal information from children who signed up to its Xbox gaming system without notifying their parents or obtaining their parents’ consent, and by illegally retaining children’s personal information.

 “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’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “This action should also make it abundantly clear that kids’ avatars, biometric data, and health information are not exempt from COPPA.”

Microsoft told users last week: “If there is a child that plays on your adult Xbox account, please create a child account for them.

“A child Xbox account has privacy settings that protect children. For example, a child Xbox account by default only lets children communicate with friends that you approve; and limits how Microsoft shares the child’s personal information with others.

“Xbox family safety settings give you more privacy options to choose from. To review your settings, go to your Privacy Dashboard, then click on the Xbox icon to get to your Privacy and online safety settings.

“Now, and in the future, you can see the personal information we collect from children linked to your account. Sign into your account on your Privacy Dashboard and select your child’s account in the drop-down to review and clear data.

“Additionally, you can ask us to delete the account by submitting a request through our account closure form. Please be sure to sign in with your child’s account credentials.

“To manage consent for a child, go to your Microsoft family safety dashboard. Sign into your account, click the three dots next to your child’s name, then “manage consent”.

“The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act gives you control over the information companies collect from your children under 13.

To learn more, read the Federal Trade Commission’s Protecting Your Child’s Privacy Online and Xbox’s online safety and privacy settings.”

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