Apple will pay parents £20m over in-app purchases
Tim Walker is The Independent’s Los Angeles correspondent, covering entertainment and other concerns from the West Coast of the US. He was previously a features writer and the editor of the paper’s diary column. His first novel, Completion, is being published in January 2014.
Wednesday 15 January 2014
Apple is to refund at least $32.5m (£20m) to customers whose children made in-app purchases without their permission, using the parents' iPhones or iPads. The technology firm reached a settlement with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), following an FTC complaint that found many of Apple's child-friendly apps offered virtual goods and other chargeable items within the apps, costing anything from 99c to $99.99.
One consumer complained that her daughter had racked up charges of $2,600 while playing the game Tap Pet Hotel, while others reported up to $500 of purchases made by their children in the apps Dragon Story and Tiny Zoo Friends. Apple had already begun to refund the in-app purchases to affected consumers before the FTC settlement. Last year the company emailed 28 million of its customers to solicit their complaints; it received 37,000 claims, which it refunded.
In an internal memo to employees, published by the blog 9to5mac.com, Apple's CEO Tim Cook said the issue arose because children were able to make in-app purchases unhindered if their parents had entered their iTunes passwords within the previous 15 minutes. Cook wrote, “The 15-minute window had been there since the launch of the App Store in 2008 and was aimed at making the App Store easy to use, but some younger customers discovered that it also allowed them to make in-app purchases without a parent's approval.”
Cook also said that the parental controls in Apple's iOS operating system remained strong, and that, “From the very beginning, protecting children has been a top priority for the App Store team and everyone at Apple.”
The FTC has demanded that Apple further inform its customers about the 15-minute window, and alter its App Store billing system to ensure that users are aware when they are about to be charged for an in-app purchase. FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said, “This settlement is a victory for consumers harmed by Apple's unfair billing, and a signal to the business community: whether you're doing business in the mobile arena or the mall down the street, fundamental consumer protections apply. You cannot charge consumers for purchases they did not authorize.”
The settlement will not affect Apple customers in the UK. FTC spokesman Jay Mayfield said, “The consumers covered by our settlement with Apple are defined as individuals and entities with a billing address in the United States.”
Life & Style blogs
Childcare 'not just a women's issue,' says shadow minister as she sets out her 'dadifesto'
Who is Teresa Fidalgo? Debunking the fake ghost story that's got Instagram spooked
Scottish salmon sales leap as Asia develops a taste
Grim second life of the 'breastaurant': The oft-loathed sector is booming in the States thanks to Hooters, Twin Peaks and Tilted Kilt
Health: When masturbation can be fatal: The practice of auto-erotic asphyxia is often concealed by a coroner's verdict. Monique Roffey looks at a lethal taboo
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Millions of Britons struggling to feed themselves and facing malnourishment
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Nigel Farage: Ukip leader named 'Briton of the year' by The Times
Immigrants make UK racist, says Ukip councillor Trevor Shonk
- 1 President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
- 2 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
- 3 Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations
- 4 Sir Winston Churchill’s family begged him not to convert to Islam, letter reveals
- 5 AirAsia flight QZ8501 missing: Search for plane carrying 162 passengers from Indonesia to Singapore suspended overnight
iJobs Gadgets & Tech
£30000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a Web Developer looking...
£35000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Moodle Developer (PHP ,Linux, Apache...
£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
£21000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Award-winning pharma softw...