Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Microsoft to Pay $20M for Spying on Kids via Xbox

'We see an opportunity to further advance safe digital experiences that are accessible, simple to use, and benefit all players...'

(Jacob Bruns, Headline USA) Microsoft has been forced to pay $20 million for spying on children using their Xbox video game consuls, the Associated Press reported.

The ruling was handed down by the Federal Trade Commission, which determined that Microsoft gathered data without notifying parents or obtaining their consent, and then illegally held the data thereafter.

Such behavior, according to the FTC, is a violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

Dave McCarthy, the corporate vice president for Xbox, released a statement recommitting the spying platform to safety.

“At Xbox, we have the fundamental commitment to provide all players with a safe and secure experience on our platform—and this is especially true for our youngest players,” McCarthy wrote, calling the illegal data mining a “glitch found in our system.”

He later described the glitch as a “technical glitch where our systems did not delete account creation data for child accounts,” and he promised that “the data was never used, shared, or monetized.”

Regardless, McCarthy said that the glitch was a good thing, because it would allow Xbox to take another look at its safety systems.

“We see an opportunity to further advance safe digital experiences that are accessible, simple to use, and benefit all players,” he noted.

Several other Big Tech companies have been caught stealing data in recent weeks, including Amazon, which was recently fined $30 million by the FTC for using its Alexa and Ring products to spy on children and adults alike.

Regulators accused Amazon of storing children’s voice recordings indefinitely while using their data to train its algorithm to interact with and understand children.

They also claimed that Amazon failed to delete children’s data, even after parents requested its deletion.

Samuel Levine, the director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, issued a statement regarding the suit.

“Amazon’s history of misleading parents, keeping children’s recordings indefinitely, and flouting parents’ deletion requests violated [the privacy rights of children],” he said, adding that Amazon had “sacrificed” kids’ “privacy for profits.”

Meanwhile, lawmakers have floated the possibility of banning all social media for children under a certain age due to its toxic effects on mental health, the risks of online predators and even national-security concerns from Chinese espionage.

Concerns are likely to grow following recent reports that Instagram, the photo-sharing platform owned by Facebook parent-company Meta, has allowed a vast network promoting the sexual abuse of children to flourish according to a recent investigation.

Microsoft’s FEC fine comes just weeks after its founder and longtime CEO, Bill Gates, was reported to have been blackmailed by billionaire pedophile pimp Jeffrey Epstein, who allegedly had compromising information about an affair between Gates and an underage Russian bridge player, Mila Antonova

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