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Apple in-app purchasing lawsuit gets the green-light

Class-action suit brought by angry parents will go ahead despite App Store policy changes

A class-action lawsuit brought against Apple by parents of children who have spent large sums of money through in-app purchases has been given the green-light by a Northern Californian court.

According to a report on the BBC, Apple had requested for the case to be dropped in light of recent policy changes that have added extra stages to in-app purchasing, and allow parents to disable it altogether. However, US District Judge Edward Davila ruled that the case should go ahead.

The suit, led by attorney Garen Maguerian, was initially filed in April 2011. The case is principally concerned with free apps targeted at young audiences, which "induce" children to spend money, "without the parents' and guardians' knowledge or authorisation."

"These games are highly addictive, designed deliberately so, and tend to compel children playing them to purchase large quantities of game currency, amounting to as much as $100 per transaction."

Prior to Apple's policy changes, a password entered prior to a purchase allowed other purchases to be made for up to 15 minutes without further authorisation.

The court filing states that this practice led to Apple "pocketing millions of dollars from...transactions with minors and without the authorisation of their parents."

Apple's decision to ask for a password for each individual transaction and include a warning about saleable items in freemium apps was motivated by an FTC investigation into in-app purchasing early last year.

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Latest comments (2)

Joshua Rose Executive Producer / Lead Designer, Storm Eagle Studios6 years ago
I still don't see how this is Apple's fault...

If parents are willing to let their kids play on their electronic devices, then parents should be responsible about it.

Supervise your children when you let them play these games and none of this would happen.

I honestly can't see this holding up in court, unless they get some activist judge that's more than willing to 'stick it to the evil corporations'

This is the same argument as the whole children playing GTA games deal. If you don't like it, maybe you should have been watching what your children are playing. Too many parents use games and electronics nowdays as in house babysitting for their kids. Take responsibility, or don't have kids, plain and simple solution.
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Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys! 6 years ago
The problem is, Joshua, that games like Tapfish and others don't put up a wall between a kid and that digital cash draining register and even if the additional costs for new content are in a EULA, no one is reading that far and these games aren't actually being straightforward and saying "You'll be charged a fee when your kid taps that colorful button that pops up and asks if they want to keep playing."

The proper solution would be for NO credit card info to be taken when playing these games unless more content needs to be bought. Whereupon that button that pops up would ask the kid to go get mommy or daddy to update the game by yanking out their card and buying away. I'm sure MOST parents would choose to not do so, instead telling the kid game time was over and it was time to do something more productive.

The GTA argument isn't valid at all, as that's a Mature content issue that's more about clueless parents not knowing that somehow a game called GRAND THEFT AUTO with a Mature rating might NOT be for little Johnny to play. On the other hand, your electronic babysitter line is correct, but hey, that's one way these devices are marketed even though very young kids probably shouldn't even be anywhere near anything zapping them with who knows what.
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