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Friday, July 18, 2014
Europe Says Apple Should Do More To Protect Users From In-app Purchases Problem

Apple has provided no immediate solutions to tackle the problem of adults and children racking up credit card bills by making "in-app" purchases on tablets and mobile phones, the European Commission said on Friday.

"..regrettably, no concrete and immediate solutions have been made by Apple to date to address the concerns linked in particular to payment authorisation, Apple has proposed to address those concerns," the EC said. "However, no firm commitment and no timing have been provided for the implementation of such possible future changes."

European authorities will continue to engage with Apple to ensure that it provides specific details of changes required and put its practices into line with the common position.

Following a complaints in EU countries concerning in-app purchases in online games and in particular inadvertent purchases by children, national authorities joined forces with the European Commission to find solutions.

The EU Consumer Protection Cooperation (CPC) network communicated to Apple, Google and the Interactive Software Federation of Europe in December 2013 asked that games advertised as "free" should not mislead consumers about the true costs involved; games should not contain direct exhortation to children to buy items in a game or to persuade an adult to buy items for them; consumers should be adequately informed about the payment arrangements for purchases and should not be debited through default settings without consumers? explicit consent and; traders should provide an email address so that consumers can contact them in case of queries or complaints.

The EU said that Google has decided on a number of changes. These include not using the word "free" at all when games contain in-app purchases, developing targeted guidelines for its app developers to prevent direct exhortation to children and time-framed measures to help monitor apparent breaches of EU consumer laws. It has also adapted its default settings, so that payments are authorised prior to every in-app purchase, unless the consumer actively chooses to modify these settings.

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