As I was configuring family member access in Windows 10, I noticed something I thought was strange. At one point, Microsoft asked for a credit card number so they could charge me $0.50 in compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Here’s the message I saw:
Let your child use their Microsoft account online?
To comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, Microsoft collects parental consent and verifies it by charging a one-time fee of $0.50 (50 cents) to the parent’s US-based credit card. The fee is donated to charity—it doesn’t let your child make purchases on that card.
I went ahead and did that and, just like they said they would, they charged my credit card for $0.50. It showed up on my credit card statement as MICROSOFT*ACCOUNT for $0.50.
This seems legit, I suppose. This measure makes sure that a kid can’t accept the Microsoft user agreement on your behalf. It’s a good bet that kids under the age of 13 don’t have credit cards. The practice seems a little old-fashioned, though. At the very least, Microsoft claims that they donate everyone’s 50 cents to The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
What about non-U.S. Microsoft Users?
The problem I see with this age verification method is the “U.S.-based credit card” requirement. COPPA is an American law created by the FTC in the U.S. So, what about our good friends in non-U.S. countries?
So far, I haven’t found a good solution for complying with COPPA and verifying your age from a different country. In cases where users got this resolved, they simply contacted Microsoft support. Microsoft may ask for age verification via fax or some other means, which seems equally as ridiculous (I think an international fax might cost even more than 50 cents). If you tell them you can’t swing that either, they may just wave a magic wand and activate your account anyway.
What a pain.
This credit card verification only occurs when you try to create an account for someone who is under 13 years old. They calculate this based on the birthdate you enter during the Microsoft account setup process.
I have to say, overall, I’m pretty unimpressed with Windows 10 family safety features. They seem cumbersome and sort of half-baked. This Americentric age verification inconvenience is just one example.
Have you had other issues with Windows 10 family member or family safety features? Leave me your gripes in the comments.