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  • FTC Says It Will Investigate iOS In-App Purchases, Per US Lawmaker's Request


    On February 9th, we reported that US Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) reached out to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) questioning Apple's "marketing practices of applications for Apple devices."Markey expressed his concern in a letter to FTC Chairman Jon Liebowtiz, citing examples of several accidental and costly in-app purchases, some of which were made by children playing with their mom or dad's iPhone. As many will recall, little Madison Kay went on a high-profile shopping spree of $99 batches of "Smurfberries" to the total sum value of $1,400.

    This week, it turns out, the Federal Trade Commission responded to Congressman Markey's letter, promising to probe Apple's business practices relating to the concerns expressed. "We fully share your concern that consumers, particularly children, are unlikely to understand the ramifications of these types of purchases," FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz wrote. "Let me assure you we will look closely at the current industry practice with respect to the marketing and delivery of these types of applications." Markey later responded to the FTC note, saying he was pleased to see the FTC take such issues seriously. "As the use of mobile apps continues to increase, I will continue to actively monitor developments in this important area," Markey said, clearly aware of how much more dangerous to the American people in-app purchases are than, say, the federal deficit and global terrorism (insert sarcasm here).

    Apple, naturally, hasn't offered formal comment on the matter, although the folks in Cupertino are no strangers to legal battles and other intensive watchdog probes. This latest accusation of "questionable business practices" follows Apple's recently announced and highly controversial subscription service for publishers - a situation that has already provoked a formal Justice Department antitrust review.

    Source: Washington Post
    This article was originally published in forum thread: FTC Says It Will Investigate iOS In-App Purchases, Per US Lawmaker's Request started by Michael Essany View original post
    Comments 40 Comments
    1. Zokunei's Avatar
      Zokunei -
      About time
    1. iSteed's Avatar
      iSteed -
      Yeah.... I have the in-app purchase ability completely shut down on my daughters iPod and my phone is passcode protected. I guess if people were a little more careful this wouldn't happen
    1. JoTahgrajales's Avatar
      JoTahgrajales -
      Eheusvaj
    1. steve-z17's Avatar
      steve-z17 -
      This is so smurfin' lame! If you don't want your children buying stuff on your iDevice, then don't let them play with it or supervise them! Markey needs to shut the smurf up!
    1. dq13's Avatar
      dq13 -
      I hate that stupid game. It costed me 80 bucks of my kid pressing the stupid berries crap. I disputed with paypal and apple. I am not paying for it!!

      Even if you are supervising, this game is made to get you with it since when you tap on the berries, it is automatically purchased, no need of itunes password, no comafirmation window or nothing... Even an adult can tap by mistake and done! You "bought it"
    1. awesomeSlayer's Avatar
      awesomeSlayer -
      Lawmakers finds opportunity for money, money, money. This is absolutely stupid! It's the parents' responsible to watch their children on iDevices.
    1. c1ockwerk's Avatar
      c1ockwerk -
      Because people are too stupid to understand how to use an idevice the govt needs to make another law
    1. feidhlim1986's Avatar
      feidhlim1986 -
      If you don't get asked for your iTunes password or even an "are you sure" prompt then this is an issue with the App developer and not Apple, although such a glitch in an app should be caught in the approval process.
      But parents should really disable in-app purchases for this app and other games their children play
    1. Madman604x's Avatar
      Madman604x -
      It's not like a parent is going to play thru s game to find glitches or offensive content. Single press purchases are just wrong. Even apple did that in iTunes.
    1. rhekt's Avatar
      rhekt -
      good. hope this crosses over. in_app purchases are a total racket
    1. steve-z17's Avatar
      steve-z17 -
      Quote Originally Posted by feidhlim1986 View Post
      If you don't get asked for your iTunes password or even an "are you sure" prompt then this is an issue with the App developer and not Apple, although such a glitch in an app should be caught in the approval process.
      But parents should really disable in-app purchases for this app and other games their children play
      The App dev definitely needs to watch that. I'm sure they do it on purpose sometimes just so they can make some more money on unsupervised children.
    1. zturn13's Avatar
      zturn13 -
      if it is one tap and bought then that is not right cuz apple has it set up so after you put in your passcode for itunes you have 15 mins the you must do it again i don't know how it can charge you with out your itunes passcode but if some how it is bypassing that then that is capcom doing that for more money and the ftc should be looking into them and not apple
    1. thetoothfairy's Avatar
      thetoothfairy -
      Good glad to see this!
    1. Tidbits's Avatar
      Tidbits -
      I have my restriction set. Suggest parents using the same tools Apple gave you. Personally I believe it's not their fault. My daughter hasn't purchased a thing yet without me knowing. Sure it's a little mor work, but at least I don't have to cry about this. Seems like a bunch of parents who can't take responsibility for their kids.
    1. shinygerbil's Avatar
      shinygerbil -
      All you people saying "parents are dumb and should take responsibility" are missing the point.

      Apple need to make it abundantly clear that these in-app purchases exist - and not only that but Apple need to make it clear that if you have recently put in your password you will not be prompted for it again. (It's all very 'hip' and 'cool' to replace your instruction manual with a kid's picture book but it's not very informative.)

      Not only that but I believe it is Apple's responsibility to enforce very clear guidelines on how app makers make customers aware of in-app purchases in their app. It's no coincidence that apps aimed at children are the ones under fire here - it's the oldest trick in the book, sucker in the kids and the parents won't even realise what they're spending.

      It's not exactly unique to smartphone apps, just look at advertising in general - but hey, guess what? There are very strict guidelines on advertising.

      So it's all very well blaming the parents but Apple are legally responsible for what passes through their app store. Nobody disagrees with the notion that they *could* be doing more to make people aware - so why disagree that they *should*?
    1. CaptainChaos's Avatar
      CaptainChaos -
      I would like to see in app purchases disappear. Sell me the entire app at one time and stop nickel and dimeing me for this feature or that feature.
    1. feidhlim1986's Avatar
      feidhlim1986 -
      Quote Originally Posted by CaptainChaos View Post
      I would like to see in app purchases disappear. Sell me the entire app at one time and stop nickel and dimeing me for this feature or that feature.
      Yup, in app purchases are like many forms of DLC for video games and I hate them, especially day one DLC! Why isnt day one DLC included on the game disc I'd pay for new levels of angry birds or cut the rope but they are given to us for free.
    1. Tedomcmillan's Avatar
      Tedomcmillan -
      this what our government wastes their time on. more rules makes the country dumber so we need more rules that makes the country dumber. anyone can make an argument that it's not fair but the free market will sort this out better than the government.
    1. zturn13's Avatar
      zturn13 -
      i love how everyone cries when app is rejected and apple has guidelines to follow and everyone hates it but when something gets thru like this everyone wants apple to make a new rule and to stop it. its just funny how that works out
    1. The Amazing Atheist's Avatar
      The Amazing Atheist -
      Parents should keep better eyes on their kids >_>

      People also shouldnt make in app purchases, either give me the whole app or i dont want it