Parents sue Apple over in-app purchases

Ashleigh Allsopp
18 April, 2012
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A group of angry parents in the US, whose children have racked up large bills after buying in-app purchases on iOS devices, are suing Apple for unfairly profiting from in-app payments.

The BBC reports that the group, led by attorney Garen Meguerian, claim that it is too easy for children to spend money on in-app purchases without their parent’s knowledge. Many of the expensive extras available as in-app purchases are found in addictive children’s games, which often require the purchase of game currency and items in order to progress more quickly, says Meguerian.

Previously, Apple called for Megeurian’s case to be dismissed, as there is an option available on all iOS devices that enables parents to turn off in-app purchases. Apple now also requires the user to enter a password for every in-app purchase. Despite this, US District Judge Edward Davila has given the hearing the go ahead.

Meguerian highlighted several examples of the ease at which children can download extra content in his court filing made in April 2011, demanding a jury trial. He claims that his 9-year-old daughter purchased roughly US$200 (approx. $190) worth of in-app purchases without his authorisation.

The court filing reads: “Apple requires its users to authenticate their accounts by entering a password prior to buying and/or downloading an App or buying Game Currency. Until recently, however, once the password was entered, Apple permitted the user, even if a minor, to buy Game Currency for up to fifteen minutes without re-entering the password.”

It is unclear what the verdict of the case will be, as Apple has already put new measures in place to ensure that parents can have control over what their children are buying. But despite this, Meguerian claims that Apple’s new in-app buying restrictions still aren’t good enough, because children over the age of 13 are permitted to set up their own iTunes accounts and the restrictions don’t prevent children who know their parents’ iTunes passwords from downloading content. There is, however, a separate PIN code that allows access to parental controls, where parents can disable in-app purchases altogether.

 

4 Comments

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  1. Michael says:

    Just wondering if Apple can counter-sue the parents for stupidity? Surely the parents ultimately control what their children purchase. Then again, we live in a society where it is so much easier to blame someone else for our own shortcomings.

  2. Jessica says:

    I’m pretty sure that iphones ipod’s and ipad’s all have restriction settings that prevent this kind of thing from happening. I have in the past handed my phone to my young cousins to play on but not without enabling retrictions or knowing that there is too little money in my apple itunes store account for them to do damage.

    Everyone needs to realise that handed a kid a internet powered device needs a little common sense. Use Itunes giftcards to purchase from the store so and enable restricts its simple.

    If the parents of this case win, I will certainly be once again dissapointed in the world. The courts should not have to solve YOUR stupidity problems.

  3. xenicraft says:

    Absolutely and utterly STUPID. I totally and wholeheartedly agree with the previous two comments.

  4. Mark Moss says:

    Went into the Apple store yesterday for a genuis appointment and parked my 4 year old at the ipad desk for kids. He loved the game he was playing so much I downloaded it (free) onto our ipad at home. It was called ‘Tiny Monsters’. The next day I got a bill from apple for $240!!!!!!!!!
    Apparently my son was making in app purchases, specifically ‘Tiny Monsters Mountains of Food’. Given that this app was targeted at a boy who cannot read or write I reckon what Apple is allowing is criminal, it’s theft basically. The apple has truly turned rotten. Saying Parents are stupid is wrong. I didn’t even know this kind of thing existed.

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