Apple to FTC: Check Out Google's App Store Policies

Parents who found their kids were racking up purchases through Apple's iTunes-base App Store complained to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission about the issue. Apple apparently didn't want to be left out, so it's legal team made a point to let the FTC know Google's app store used similar policies, too.

Apple pushes FTC to investigate Google's app storeApple pushes FTC to investigate Google's app store

Instead of filing a formal complaint against Google, Apple's general counsel Bruce Sewell wrote a casual email to FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez and Democratic Commissioner Julie Brill sharing a Consumer Reports article detailing the Internet search giant's app store policies.

News of Apple's email was uncovered by Polictico through a Freedom of Information Act request.

Apple ran afoul of the FTC because of a default 15 minute window after a user enters their Apple ID password to make an App Store purchase from their iPhone or iPad where they can continue to buy without authenticating. The let some children rack up expensive in-app purchases without realizing they were spending real money.

The company changed the default settings so post-purchase authentication times out faster, and it's clearer when in-app purchases are being made. That didn't, however, stop the FTC from launching an investigation and ultimately pushing Apple into a settlement that includes about US$32.5 million in refunds to parents who got stuck with surprise App Store purchases.

That followed Apple's voluntary App Store policy changes and a settlement in a class action lawsuit.

Google's policy left a 30 minute window after authentication that, according to Consumer Reports, let kids "spend like a drunken sailor." Google has since changed that to help avoid surprise purchases, just as Apple did.

The FTC isn't saying it has launched an investigation into Google's app store policies, although it's possible. The Commission already hammered Apple, and is currently investigating Amazon for the same thing, so it's likely Google is facing its own FTC headache, too.