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  • FTC Encouraged by US Lawmaker to Probe Apple Practices


    According to the Washington Post, yesterday Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) encouraged the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to take another look at Apple, specifically the Cupertino-based company's "marketing practices of applications for Apple devices." Markey's concern, in case you're wondering, originates from reports that many apps and programs tailored to young audiences - children in particular - "may not adequately inform users of potential charges."

    Markey expressed his concern in a letter to FTC Chairman Jon Liebowtiz. According to the Post article, it was another Washington Post piece that Markey cited as evidence of Apple's questionable practices. Last Tuesday, the venerable publication ran a story about how several in-app purchases on iPad, iPod and iPhone games (among those named were Smurfs' Village and Tap Zoo) eventually shocked parents when they discovered their little ones' substantial purchases.

    Children used parents' passwords to make real charges on the games. In some cases, children made purchases without even using iTunes passwords because of a 15-minute window for downloads and charges that don't require a password.
    Just how much damage can one kid do when mom and dad think they're harmlessly playing on the iPhone? Well, according to the Post report, little Madison Kay went on a shopping spree of $99 batches of "Smurfberries" to the total sum value of $1,400. As a result, mom and dad weren't pleased. Consequently, Markey says the apps "may be taking advantage of childrens' lack of understanding when it comes to real money and buying pretend services and products on the Web."

    The FTC is yet to offer formal comment on the matter.

    Washington Post
    This article was originally published in forum thread: FTC Encouraged by US Lawmaker to Probe Apple Practices started by Michael Essany View original post
    Comments 36 Comments
    1. kraziebone's Avatar
      kraziebone -
      Those dang smufberries get me every time
    1. Snozberries's Avatar
      Snozberries -
      it saddens me that this MORON is repping Massachusetts. He should just shut his mouth like the rest of the do nothing politicians in mass and collect his fat paycheck. $99 batches of smurfberries. Parental Control... yeah. You need a license to drive a car but not one to procreate. Dear lil madison kay, thx for your $1400 purchase. your parents lack commonsense and shouldn't be able to get you that lil baby brother you want so bad.
    1. fishbone's Avatar
      fishbone -
      So why should Apple be investigated if it's clearly a matter of dumb people inability to proper config their children iPhone restrictions???
    1. spazturtle's Avatar
      spazturtle -
      This article in a nutshell:
      "Dumb people do dumb things and another dumb person gets annoyed"
    1. dq13's Avatar
      dq13 -
      it is not a lack of control or configuration of the device. that stupid game lets you purchase without warning or even asking for iTunes password. my wife tapped by mistake the "berries" or whatever you call them and it automatically purchased $5.00 worth of that thing, without inputting any password or any confirmation screen.... that game SUCKS!! it got automatically deleted. Farmville has the same thing that you can purchase "farm bucks" or whatever, but you have to confirm the purchase so if you click by mistake, you can exit without buying anything...
    1. Dazz187s's Avatar
      Dazz187s -
      Please, tell mom and dad an iPhone is not a toy.
    1. awesomeSlayer's Avatar
      awesomeSlayer -
      Lawmakers are asking FTC to probe practices? Really?! Seriously, as parents, you are responsible to watch your kids do on iPhones!
    1. SteveJobsEvilTwinBro's Avatar
      SteveJobsEvilTwinBro -
      Bought my son a brand new iPod Touch 4 for his birthday, not the phone (VoIP seems to keep him pretty busy talking and texting away to his friends using TextNow), anyways, he started playing Pocket Legends and asked me to buy him in-game currency. I gave a him the green light a couple times, no biggie. He started using my iPad to play on a bigger screen, he really got into that game and another called SevenSwords which I confess I played a couple times lol, impressive game. Here's where it gets funny, he goes on Cydia and installs UDID faker and puts his iTouch UDID into the iPad and goes on a spending spree using my iTunes account, SevenSwords won't let you log in from another device -- close to $340.00 in 2 weeks!!! Buying coins and god knows what else, I noticed he stopped asking me for money to buy stuff. This last Monday I get a call from his principal, turns out he got in trouble for using a proxy server to get past the network security, he was charging kids to jailbreak their devices, I tried to discipline him and what does he do?! He pulls out $350.00+ and says "Here dad!", I blinked a couple times, the look on the principals face..? Priceless. I don't know if I should take away his toy or let him keep it, ever smile and frown at the same time? I swear to god, kids today.. All I had in my day was a notepad (an actual notepad lmao) and colored pencils to draw with, GI-Joes and basketballs.. I can't blame Apple, if there is a will, there's a way^^
    1. 97vrsix's Avatar
      97vrsix -
      Come on mom and dad, I was just trying to get my smurfberry fix!

      I suck your...pinky for smurfberrys man! I.. I got'ta grow'em! Then, then I got'ta shoot them up! Lmao! Too funny!

      No doubt, sick to death seeing kids under 10 play with iPhones, even the iPhone 4, and throwing it on the fricken ground! Kids 10-14 don't need an IPhone! They need a normal flip! Play with this! Limit there calls. Save your allowance! Then when you turn 14-16 buy your own!

      Parents give children why to much! To much room to play of you will! Shorten that leash! Save some green! Teach them manors. Please!

      (yes, I have an 9 year old daughter, yes I practice what I preach! I do spoil, but in the right ways, age appropriate.)

      Back to smurfberrys! I need my fix.


      Sent from my iPhone using ModMyi
    1. IXAdamOwnzXI's Avatar
      IXAdamOwnzXI -
      Quote Originally Posted by SteveJobsEvilTwinBro View Post
      Bought my son a brand new iPod Touch 4 for his birthday, not the phone (VoIP seems to keep him pretty busy talking and texting away to his friends using TextNow), anyways, he started playing Pocket Legends and asked me to buy him in-game currency. I gave a him the green light a couple times, no biggie. He started using my iPad to play on a bigger screen, he really got into that game and another called SevenSwords which I confess I played a couple times lol, impressive game. Here's where it gets funny, he goes on Cydia and installs UDID faker and puts his iTouch UDID into the iPad and goes on a spending spree using my iTunes account, SevenSwords won't let you log in from another device -- close to $340.00 in 2 weeks!!! Buying coins and god knows what else, I noticed he stopped asking me for money to buy stuff. This last Monday I get a call from his principal, turns out he got in trouble for using a proxy server to get past the network security, he was charging kids to jailbreak their devices, I tried to discipline him and what does he do?! He pulls out $350.00+ and says "Here dad!", I blinked a couple times, the look on the principals face..? Priceless. I don't know if I should take away his toy or let him keep it, ever smile and frown at the same time? I swear to god, kids today.. All I had in my day was a notepad (an actual notepad lmao) and colored pencils to draw with, GI-Joes and basketballs.. I can't blame Apple, if there is a will, there's a way^^
      You're kid is ****** intelligent. Keep letting him charge kids to jailbreak maybe you'll make some profit. But seriously, goodjob raising your kid. Damn.
    1. Turb02's Avatar
      Turb02 -
      heres a thought, turn the wifi off and dont let the kid know the password, if its off, they cant make purchases... My 3 year old uses my old 3G for games. he has been since I got my i4. Now he occasionally turns it off and boots into Android but that doesnt hurt anything.

      Im actually trying to get my son into tech early so he can make a good life for himself. Gonna teach him programming when he starts school.
    1. andygev35's Avatar
      andygev35 -
      Gone are the days of personal responsibility... Precisely why this country is going to hell in a handbasket. Legislators seize every opportunity for control of anything they can get their hands on... Nowadays legislators think "how can we do this" rather than "should we do this". Shame on them.
    1. akafred's Avatar
      akafred -
      Quote Originally Posted by SteveJobsEvilTwinBro View Post
      Bought my son a brand new iPod Touch 4 for his birthday,
      8th birthday or 17th? makes a big difference to this story.
    1. punjabi212's Avatar
      punjabi212 -
      I didn't get my first phone until I turned 18 lol.
    1. EskimoRuler's Avatar
      EskimoRuler -
      Kids are going to do what they want, this is entirely the parents fault I don't need to be giving kids iPhones even just to play with
    1. dkwinters's Avatar
      dkwinters -
      There is a way to enable in app purchases and even restrictions for App purchase.. Parents should be aware of what kids do on any iOS
    1. zakspop's Avatar
      zakspop -
      Most small kids use their parent's phone because it is sometimes a great way to keep them entertained when said parent is doing other things that real grown-ups do. So what happens, a parent downloads a free app that is geared for his/her child. Unbeknown to the parent the free app had not-so free add-ons that the child can easily get to. Most iPhone owners are unaware that there is a way to turn off in-app purchases if they know of the existence of in-app purchases at all. My son did that on my wife's phone. We got billed for 99 cents, a far cry form $1400 but still I wasn't happy about it. Apple was good enough to refund it and explained how to turn it off. Bottom line, Apple should have it disabled by default and the owner would have to enable it if they wanted it and not the other way round.
    1. steve-z17's Avatar
      steve-z17 -
      What the Smurf?!?! This is Smurfing funny! The parents are the one's to blame here, they let their Smurfin' kid play the Smurfin' game on their own. What the Smurf did they expect? Awesome that the kid bought that many Smurfberries! Smurf yeah!
    1. mortopher's Avatar
      mortopher -
      Quote Originally Posted by zakspop View Post
      Most small kids use their parent's phone because it is sometimes a great way to keep them entertained when said parent is doing other things that real grown-ups do. So what happens, a parent downloads a free app that is geared for his/her child. Unbeknown to the parent the free app had not-so free add-ons that the child can easily get to. Most iPhone owners are unaware that there is a way to turn off in-app purchases if they know of the existence of in-app purchases at all. My son did that on my wife's phone. We got billed for 99 cents, a far cry form $1400 but still I wasn't happy about it. Apple was good enough to refund it and explained how to turn it off. Bottom line, Apple should have it disabled by default and the owner would have to enable it if they wanted it and not the other way round.
      Finally! There is already a way to prevent this. However, I do agree that Apple should be a little be clearer about inapp purchases and whatnot... a simple popup when first activating/restoring the phone would even be an improvement. They need to expand the features of it to include spending limits and such for Apps/Tunes. I let my younger sister us my iTunes and Cydia accounts b/c I know what a nuisance it can be in dealing with my parents about buying games/music and I don't mind at all when I see in my iTunes email that she's spent a few bucks getting a new song or two or bought a new game once in a while, but from time to time she'll have a brainfart and go spend $20 on ringtones or something else absolutely ridiculous. That's when i get annoyed by it.

      I'm curious about the smurf game though b/c multiple sources have said that it seems to be much more deceiving than any other app in regards to the in-app purchases. I believe it was the cause of the app dethroning Angry Birds finally, albeit only temporarily.
    1. Mrteacup's Avatar
      Mrteacup -
      I'm thirteen but when I was young I knew not to buy crap I still do parents should just learn what password protection is it's not complicated