or Connect
AppleInsider › Forums › Mobile › iPod + iTunes + AppleTV › FTC to investigate iTunes in-app purchases after receiving complaints
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

FTC to investigate iTunes in-app purchases after receiving complaints

post #1 of 29
Thread Starter 
Parental complaints over iTunes App Store in-app purchases in children's games such as "Smurfs' Village" have prompted the Federal Trade Commission to look into the matter, according to a new report.

Earlier this month, The Washington Post wrote about growing parental and public interest group dissatisfaction with Apple's in-app purchase policies. After learning of the issue, U.S. legislator Rep. Ed Markey sent a concerned letter to the FTC.

FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz responded to Markey's correspondence on Tuesday. "We fully share your concern that consumers, particularly children, are unlikely to understand the ramifications of these types of purchases," Leibowitz wrote. "Let me assure you we will look closely at the current industry practice with respect to the marketing and delivery of these types of applications."

Markey issued a statement commenting on the FTC's response. I sent the Federal Trade Commission a letter calling on the agency to investigate the issue of 'in-app' purchases and provide additional information about the promotion and delivery of these applications to consumers, especially with respect to children," Markey wrote. "What may appear in these games to be virtual coins and prizes to children result in very real costs to parents. I am pleased that the FTC has responded, and as the use of mobile apps continues to increase, I will continue to actively monitor developments in this important area."

After consumers began complaining of "accidental" in-app purchases in Capcom's "Smurfs' Village" app, Apple reportedly had harsh words for the developer earlier this month.

"Apple has told Capcom in no uncertain terms that its freemium children's game has been causing problems with an increasingly significant number of parents who have complained that their children have been racking up large amounts of in-app purchases without their knowledge," said one report.

Also at issue is an iOS feature that can allow purchases for up to 15-minutes after a password is entered. Some parents have reported having their password guessed by their children. Though in-app purchases can be disabled in the Restrictions settings pane in OS, public interest groups are lobbying for the setting to be disabled by default.

Responding to complaints of accidental purchases, Capcom recently added a disclaimer on iTunes and an in-app pop-up warning notifying users that items purchased in the game can cost real money.

In December last year, users complained of unauthorized in-app purchases from a Chinese language game. Several reviewers of the game alleged that their accounts had been "hacked" and purchased had been made without their approval.

Apple first introduced in-app purchases with the release of iOS 3.0 in 2009. The feature was initially limited to paid applications, but was made available to free apps later that year.

The iPhone maker receives 30 percent of the revenue generated from in-app purchases.

Recent Congressional involvement resemblesa situation, also involving Markey, that took place over Apple's iOS privacy policy last year. The LA Times erroneously reported in June that Apple had revised its privacy policy to begin tracking users' locations. After reading the report, Markey sent a letter to Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs asking for clarification on the issue.

Apple general counsel Bruce Sewell responded in July, detailing Apple's privacy policy regarding location-based services.

"Apple's responses provided additional information about how it uses location data and the ability of consumers to exercise control over a variety of features on Apple's products, and I appreciate the company's response," Markey said in a statement at the time.
post #2 of 29
My tax dollars at work.

Hooray.
post #3 of 29
Meh. It's not Apple's fault if developers make it easy to accidentally tap and pay large sums of money, especially in a children's game. I imagine they have two good options: revise the policies of the App Store to make such behavior be grounds for rejection, and/or allow for more customization of settings regarding Store and IAP.
post #4 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by autism109201 View Post

Meh. It's not Apple's fault if developers make it easy to accidentally tap and pay large sums of money, especially in a children's game. I imagine they have two good options: revise the policies of the App Store to make such behavior be grounds for rejection, and/or allow for more customization of settings regarding Store and IAP.

Apple should log you out of the App store immediately upon launching a new app. This way, the kids can not make any purchases without entering the iTunes password.
post #5 of 29
I've never accidentally purchased a bunch of "tokens" or "prizes" in an app.

Could it be good ol' Darwin at work here? Seriously, just turn In-App purchases off when you hand the device to your child. If you're too much of an idiot to toggle a switch, you shouldn't be having children, using technology or electing corrupt officials into office.
post #6 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gustav View Post

Apple should log you out of the App store immediately upon launching a new app. This way, the kids can not make any purchases without entering the iTunes password.

Right, but what about those who don't have children/those who don't want to be logged out? That's why I think it should be a setting.
post #7 of 29
I do think Apple should continue refining the process, maybe adding finer controls, but I dont want to have to enter my password for each in-app purchase in a single sitting. This is a UI issue to me, not a big legal issue. There are lots of ways a kid without proper supervision can cost a parent money. No doubt theres motivation for parents to blame someone else when that happens. Apple shares some blame too. So do app developers. But this is all new, and there will be growing pains.

And they ALREADY have a switch in Settings to disable in-app purchases, among other parental controls. Using those controls solves the problem of children buying unwanted stuff.

Maybe Apple should include a giant sticker for parents, reminding them to consider the Parental Controls.
post #8 of 29
Maybe 5 year olds shouldn't be handed a $700 cell phone that could allow them to make purchases. Just 1 opinion.

I don't blame apple. I do think some parental controls (by the device and parents) could help this particular situation.
post #9 of 29
Doesn't the OS require you to re-enter your password eevry time you make a purchase? I thought it did. Maybe just don't let your fucking kids know your password. Oh no, that takes parental responsibility. We let our 2 and 5 year olds play some games and watch Netflix on our iPad, but we do NOT let them know passwords.
post #10 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by SHOBIZ View Post

Maybe 5 year olds shouldn't be handed a $700 cell phone that could allow them to make purchases. Just 1 opinion.

I don't blame apple. I do think some parental controls (by the device and parents) could help this particular situation.

No kidding. And I've seen plenty of kids with iPhones, trust me.

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

Reply

Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

Reply
post #11 of 29
Great.

More nanny state government to cover for irresponsible parents.

No wonder this country is broke and the last 2 generations have been nothing more than a bunch of "adult" children.
post #12 of 29
I remember me and my friend actually used brute force to guess a password of his dads pc. It took us about a week a an hour or so a day just going 0000, 00001 etc etc. We knew it was numbers only cause he used the number pad to enter it in.

We got away withplaying video games for months before his dad found out because of the warm monitor. He was so surprised of our effort he actually removed the password and let us play openly when he wasn't home.

Anyway point of the story, Smart parents have smart kids. Don't think your kids can't figure out your password. Try to tell them why they shouldnt waste money instead.
--SHEFFmachine out
Da Bears!
Reply
--SHEFFmachine out
Da Bears!
Reply
post #13 of 29
In-app purchase shouldn't be in game app targeted at children. Period.
post #14 of 29
My child inadvertently made a $99 in-app purchase. Thankfully Apple refunded my money.

Problem is that most of us trust that any such purchase would require a password. I mean, our password is required to download "free" apps. Word has not gotten around that no such password is required for in-app purchases. So, I wouldn't be so quick to blame it on 'parent irresponsibility' as some earlier have.

I think it would be great for Apple to make the default setting one that disables in-app purchases to begin with. And if one decides to activate it, mandate passwords for each purchase. If kids find out your password, that's on you then.
post #15 of 29
No matter what the do, Apple is screwed.

They make it so every purchase every time requires the password, the 'adults' will complain. And it doesn't fix the way too easy to guess password issues, or things like Momma $1400 who had told her kids the password.

If they force games to have no buys, the developers will yell at them for being over controlling etc. Censoring how games can be written etc.

I have no real love for Smurf's Village because I found it to be rather lame with the same games over and over etc. Speeding it up might help or not.

In the end the best advice for those with kids is to not have a credit card on your account. Added bonus if someone hacks your account they can't clean out your checking account etc. or if it is the kids device let them learn some responsibility with an allowance account.

A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

Reply

A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

(She's family so I'm a little biased)

Reply
post #16 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by sheff View Post

I remember me and my friend actually used brute force to guess a password of his dads pc. It took us about a week a an hour or so a day just going 0000, 00001 etc etc. We knew it was numbers only cause he used the number pad to enter it in.

We got away withplaying video games for months before his dad found out because of the warm monitor. He was so surprised of our effort he actually removed the password and let us play openly when he wasn't home.

Anyway point of the story, Smart parents have smart kids. Don't think your kids can't figure out your password. Try to tell them why they shouldnt waste money instead.

People should be reading the story and not just the headline. And the FTC should be investigating apple or it's in app purchases program that forces companies to offer up the same price to ios users that they offer up through other channels never mind the investment involved in supporting iOS.
post #17 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by iOCDad View Post

My child inadvertently made a $99 in-app purchase. Thankfully Apple refunded my money.

Problem is that most of us trust that any such purchase would require a password. I mean, our password is required to download "free" apps. Word has not gotten around that no such password is required for in-app purchases. So, I wouldn't be so quick to blame it on 'parent irresponsibility' as some earlier have.

I think it would be great for Apple to make the default setting one that disables in-app purchases to begin with. And if one decides to activate it, mandate passwords for each purchase. If kids find out your password, that's on you then.

It's not that hard to turn it off. It takes all of 20 seconds to toggle a button and save a passcode so it can't be tampered with. As the majority of iPhones being bought arent by irresponsible kids and rather teens and adults, having this on by default seems fine.

Also, in-app purchases DO require your iTunes password, as long as you haven't entered it to download something from the store 15 minutes prior. After that timeframe, you'll need to enter it again
post #18 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by AdonisSMU View Post

People should be reading the story and not just the headline. And the FTC should be investigating apple or it's in app purchases program that forces companies to offer up the same price to ios users that they offer up through other channels never mind the investment involved in supporting iOS.

Stay tuned.

Sent from my iPhone.
post #19 of 29
It's quite pathetic how no one can take responsibility for their actions or those if their children these days. Looks like we really do need a nanny state.
/sigh
post #20 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by autism109201 View Post

Meh. It's not Apple's fault if developers make it easy to accidentally tap and pay large sums of money, especially in a children's game. I imagine they have two good options: revise the policies of the App Store to make such behavior be grounds for rejection, and/or allow for more customization of settings regarding Store and IAP.

Well there receiving 30% of the money so they should have some sort of responsibility.

Personally I think this is in everyones interest. It won't hurt users having it off by default and its also better for developers. Remember every example like iOCDad where people have there money refunded its being refunded 100% by the developer and Apple still keeps there 30%.
post #21 of 29
I have to admit Apple currently has the App Store / iTunes purchases screwed up. You can buy one thing (and enter your password) and then buy something else, even accidentally since you have a time period where the password doesn't need to be reentered. This applies to in App stuff too.

How about AT LEAST giving the customers the OPTION of REQUIRING entering the account password every single time!!! I have accidentally bought rented something because my fat fingers were unable to easily hit preview button versus the buy/rent button. The location of the button AND the lack of a password requirement (after the first password entry) is either:

1. clearly designed by a moron, or...
2. intentionally designed to take advantage of peoples' mistakes and make extra $$ off of them.

This one issue would alleviate many of the complaints against Apple. (Not the subscription B.S. albeit)
post #22 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Slang4Art View Post

I've never accidentally purchased a bunch of "tokens" or "prizes" in an app.

Could it be good ol' Darwin at work here? Seriously, just turn In-App purchases off when you hand the device to your child. If you're too much of an idiot to toggle a switch, you shouldn't be having children, using technology or electing corrupt officials into office.

OR Apple could simply require a password entry for each and every purchase. This isn't social Darwinism at work. People make mistakes. Instead of trying bad-mouth them, how about coming up with a solution.
post #23 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by charlituna View Post

No matter what the do, Apple is screwed.

They make it so every purchase every time requires the password, the 'adults' will complain. And it doesn't fix the way too easy to guess password issues, or things like Momma $1400 who had told her kids the password.

If they force games to have no buys, the developers will yell at them for being over controlling etc. Censoring how games can be written etc.

I have no real love for Smurf's Village because I found it to be rather lame with the same games over and over etc. Speeding it up might help or not.

In the end the best advice for those with kids is to not have a credit card on your account. Added bonus if someone hacks your account they can't clean out your checking account etc. or if it is the kids device let them learn some responsibility with an allowance account.

Really? Make it an option so that you can turn on the the need for a password entry every time any purchase is made. If it is an OPTION then Apple will not "be screwed". They will have covered all their bases.
post #24 of 29
The thing is that it isn't Apple's fault entirely. Yes, there should be an option. To those who are saying it should log you out automatically, please consider people who find it very convenient that we do remain logged in. For example, I'm a teenager, and I maintain my own iTunes Store account with iTMS gift cards. No one else uses my iPod except under very strict supervision, because I'm paranoid and protective. So I don't want to be logged out EVERY TIME, especially since I have a longer password.

It's not convenient that there is a universal Store setting. It should be an option.
post #25 of 29
Whatever the question, more passwords isn't the answer.

I don't like a Vista-experience on my phone.

And a "request for password" for every App-purchase isn't a solution at all: children can make international phone calls, mistakenly use Application intended for real work (deleting docs), send email to wrong contacts, delete Apps, and tomorrow perhaps make NFC or other mobile payments.
Of course they also can navigate in internet, see questionable content, listen explicit lyrics, or use unintended amount of internet data.
If someone gives his child a dumb-phone for playing a Java-based game and his child instead calls China, Ma Bell refunds?
No technological solution may assure careless or no-brainer entrustment of such powerful devices to children.

Besides: more often people is requested for password, more simple the password will become.

I think that the best option is:

- to ask when setting the iDevice for the first time "Do you want to configure this iPod/iPhone/iPod for children use? Yes/No; You can later change this choice in setting > general > restrictions"

AND

- to build a control next and similar to "Airplane mode" called "Children mode" that disables by defaults:
data-roaming
in-App purchase
app-store purchase
mobile payment
phone-calls
mail, calendar and Addressbook Apps
internet navigation
UI modifying
Every App, Toon, Movie recommended for > 8 years old


Of course people would allowed to fine-tuning this settings in settings > general > parental controls.
Everyone happy.


One more thing:
I like Smurf's Village.
There is still room for improvements: a different graphics for in-App purchase, similar to app-store, a 15minutes timer that prevents child from compulsive purchase, a plain deletion of 99$ smurfsberries pack, language localization.
But I think it is not more "dangerous" than other potential activity that a child can do on the iPod touch without parental control.
post #26 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guglielmo Altavilla View Post

Whatever the question, more passwords isn't the answer.

I don't like a Vista-experience on my phone.

And a "request for password" for every App-purchase isn't a solution at all: children can make international phone calls, mistakenly use Application intended for real work (deleting docs), send email to wrong contacts, delete Apps, and tomorrow perhaps make NFC or other mobile payments.
Of course they also can navigate in internet, see questionable content, listen explicit lyrics, or use unintended amount of internet data.
If someone gives his child a dumb-phone for playing a Java-based game and his child instead calls China, Ma Bell refunds?
No technological solution may assure careless or no-brainer entrustment of such powerful devices to children.

Besides: more often people is requested for password, more simple the password will become.

I think that the best option is:

- to ask when setting the iDevice for the first time "Do you want to configure this iPod/iPhone/iPod for children use? Yes/No; You can later change this choice in setting > general > restrictions"

AND

- to build a control next and similar to "Airplane mode" called "Children mode" that disables by defaults:
data-roaming
in-App purchase
app-store purchase
mobile payment
phone-calls
mail, calendar and Addressbook Apps
internet navigation
UI modifying
Every App, Toon, Movie recommended for > 8 years old


Of course people would allowed to fine-tuning this settings in settings > general > parental controls.
Everyone happy.


One more thing:
I like Smurf's Village.
There is still room for improvements: a different graphics for in-App purchase, similar to app-store, a 15minutes timer that prevents child from compulsive purchase, a plain deletion of 99$ smurfsberries pack, language localization.
But I think it is not more "dangerous" than other potential activity that a child can do on the iPod touch without parental control.



Why is it Apple's responsibility to build a system to do the job of the parent?
post #27 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Patranus View Post

Why is it Apple's responsibility to build a system to do the job of the parent?

It is not Apple's responsibility.
It is an opportunity to provide a superior feature for people that, unlike me you and Joe AIreader, cannot manage accurately all settings needed when giving their devices to their children.
post #28 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by Patranus View Post

Why is it Apple's responsibility to build a system to do the job of the parent?

That's not. It would be the parents job to set the child mode when handing the phone to the kids. Apple just makes it far easier for everyone to have a good enjoyable experience with a reduced opportunity for unpleasant surprises. And that's kind of an Apple thing.
.
Reply
.
Reply
post #29 of 29
Quote:
Originally Posted by charlituna View Post

In the end the best advice for those with kids is to not have a credit card on your account. Added bonus if someone hacks your account they can't clean out your checking account etc. or if it is the kids device let them learn some responsibility with an allowance account.

+1 for this. Why people feel they have to have their CC tied to their account is beyond me, kids or not. Using iTunes gift cards gives virtually all the benefits, with virtually none of the risk.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Guglielmo Altavilla View Post

- to build a control next and similar to "Airplane mode" called "Children mode" that disables by defaults:
data-roaming
in-App purchase
app-store purchase
mobile payment
phone-calls
mail, calendar and Addressbook Apps
internet navigation
UI modifying
Every App, Toon, Movie recommended for > 8 years old

Yup. I don't necessarily agree with this exact set of options, but the idea is perfect. And given the number of kids that use iPad/iPhone, it would surprise me if they didn't add something similar to this in the future.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patranus View Post

Why is it Apple's responsibility to build a system to do the job of the parent?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hiro View Post

That's not. It would be the parents job to set the child mode when handing the phone to the kids. Apple just makes it far easier for everyone to have a good enjoyable experience with a reduced opportunity for unpleasant surprises. And that's kind of an Apple thing.

Patranus is obviously not a parent (nor particularly worldly or thoughtful). And as Hiro points out, it's merely an optional tool that Apple could easily provide to make a parents life much easier.
No Matte == No Sale :-(
Reply
No Matte == No Sale :-(
Reply
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: iPod + iTunes + AppleTV
AppleInsider › Forums › Mobile › iPod + iTunes + AppleTV › FTC to investigate iTunes in-app purchases after receiving complaints