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

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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.

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It's important for companies like Apple, Amazon, and Google to have reasonable and responsible online purchase safeguards in place. It's also unfortunate that these companies are held responsible for parents failing to monitor their kids.

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JP Michaels

class action


What needs to happen is that actually reasonable consumers need to file a class action lawsuit against irresponsible parents that are insufficiently attentive to their children, blame and sue innocent companies for not babysitting their children, and therefore, inevitably make things more expensive and complicated for the rest of us.


While blaming inept parents is true to an extent, the expectation that hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions) of parents can logistically be sued, that they’re listening to other’s criticisms or that these parents might somehow and magically reverse course is equally preposterous…


Why is it preposterous for Parents to actually take responsibility as parents?
I don’t think that’s preposterous I think it is there responsibility. I’m a parent and I’ve done just that. My daughter can ask for an App or movie and I will put in the Apple ID password if I approve of what she is asking for. Why can’t all parents do this instead of blaming the companies. It’s like if you bring your child to a store. Do you approve of them stealing stuff off the shelf? Is that the stores responsibility to teach your child not to steal? I don’t think so and it would be preposterous to think it is.

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