Microsoft introduces new EU GDPR parental consent validations for children's accounts

Microsoft has announced that it will be introducing new parental consent verifications for children's accounts in compliance with the European Union (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The data protection reform was adopted by the European Parliament on April 14, 2016, with an enforcement deadline of May 25, 2018.

The GDPR reform was put forth to impose a better way for companies to handle the personal data of their customers. In essence, it is aimed at strengthening a customer's right to privacy. Microsoft has been working towards fulfilling the requirements of the GDPR by measures such as the quite recent appointment of a new European Data Protection Officer (DPO), and now by beginning the new parental consent validation process. A GDPR compliance tool was made generally available in February as well, to help businesses comply with the new data protection regulations.

The new authentication process for accounts held by children will require parents to provide consent for processing personal data of children younger than the age of 16. The age limit can be lower, subject to the decisions made by EU member states, provided that it isn't set to be lower than the age of 13. Microsoft believes that the U.S. Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) will help implement this new verification system across all of the company's product platforms.

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The new parental consent process has been described by Microsoft in detail in the following way:

Using COPPA processes, we will prompt existing users to provide their country and date of birth. Users who are younger than the age of consent for their country will then be prompted for parental consent when they sign into their account during a short grace period. To verify their child’s account, parents will need to use a credit or debit card, or other payment instrument, for a 50-cent charge which will be credited toward an existing Microsoft account. This nominal charge also offers parents an extra step of protection to be aware of any misuse when reviewing their card statement.

After the aforementioned grace period, the child's account will be blocked until the completion of the verification process, with continued data subject rights support from the company. However, new children accounts which have not been verified within two weeks will be deleted. Parents who feel uncomfortable with this system have been provided the option to verify their age and identity using the required government documents.

Further information regarding Microsoft's new policy can be viewed along with submission of age verification forms here.

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