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Apple nudged FTC to look into Google Play Store after in-app purchase settlement

post #1 of 45
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Days after the company agreed to a $32.5 million settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission over in-app purchase policies, Apple general counsel Bruce Sewell sent an email to commissioners directing their attention to an article saying the Google Play Store lets children spend their parents' money "like a drunken sailor."

FTC
Source: FTC


"I thought this article might be of some interest, particularly if you have not already seen it," Sewell wrote to commissioners Edith Ramirez and Julie Brill in an e-mail uncovered by Politico. The article in question, from watchdog Consumer Reports, lays bare faults in Google's own app marketplace that mirror those that landed Apple in hot water with federal regulators.

It is unclear if the commission followed up on Sewell's missive, though no investigation or lawsuit against Google has been announced.

The FTC announced an investigation into the in-app purchase behavior of so-called "freemium" apps and games aimed at children in 2011, following complaints from consumers. In one high-profile incident, an 8-year-old spent more than $6,000 on in-app purchases before his parents caught on, though Apple eventually refunded that money.

A number of other families in a similar situation banded together in a class-action suit, which Apple settled by offering full refunds and iTunes credits to those affected. The FTC continued its own legal action, however, leading to an eventual agreement with terms that essentially mirrored those of the earlier class-action suit.

Apple CEO Tim Cook criticized the FTC's decision to press the matter, saying that it "smacked of double jeopardy." At least one of the commissioners agreed with Cook, penning a dissent that said the FTC's decision had "no foundation."
post #2 of 45
$32.5M should be enough to pay for the FTC lawyers and management for a few months. This sounds like the police who have their ticket quota to offset reduction in funding. Hopefully Apple can write these phony fines off their taxes.
post #3 of 45
Apple is the FTC's favorite beating boy.. They like to use them to beat on...
post #4 of 45
Why would the government sue Google over this? That would violate the policy of It's Only Wrong When Apple Does It. Besides, Google says they Do No Evil, so there. The guilty party has been punished, the government earn their cut of protection money, and Google is not evil. And parents everywhere are off the hook.

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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

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post #5 of 45

I'm turned off by "freemium" apps.  I'd rather pay money and buy a game like $10 XCom or $3 The Room, than get one free and feel the urge to buy to "help me get along".

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2012 27" iMac i7, 2010 27" iMac i7, 2011 Mac Mini i5
iPad Air, iPad Mini Retina, (2) iPhone 5S, iPod Touch 5
Time Capsule 5, (3) AirPort Express 2, (2) Apple TV 3

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post #6 of 45
...tattletales 1biggrin.gif
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post #7 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andysol View Post

I'm turned off by "freemium" apps.  I'd rather pay money and buy a game like $10 XCom or $3 The Room, than get one free and feel the urge to buy to "help me get along".

I agree except for games that allow you to play part of the game and then pay for the rest.

I really wish Apple would either put in a mechanism for allowing part of the game as a demo, or put these games in a desperate category.
post #8 of 45
Good. What's good for the goose. Apple got slammed despite having included restrictions etc and giving out refunds when reasonable. So why shouldn't all other players get the eyeball.

Same with Amazon etc.

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

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A non tech's thoughts on Apple stuff 

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

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post #9 of 45

Yeah, Android appears to be the elephant in the target-kids-with-freemium-games room.  It would be odd (and inconsistent, albeit unsurprising) for the FTC to not give them the same treatment.

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You did not come into the world to fail. You came into the world to succeed.

- Gordon Hinckley

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post #10 of 45
Hmmm.... Where do we start a petition to have it looked into? Or better yet can I buy an android, have my kid buy a couple apps and then go after them hoping for a class action? Just kidding... I'd never buy an android!
post #11 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by jinglesthula View Post

Yeah, Android appears to be the elephant in the target-kids-with-freemium-games room.  It would be odd (and inconsistent, albeit unsurprising) for the FTC to not give them the same treatment.

I thought I'd read that Google had voluntarily complied with the rules laid down for the App Store back in March but I don't find the source now.
melior diabolus quem scies
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post #12 of 45
I'm sure that DoJ is simply working down the alphabet and will get to the G's by the end of the decade.
post #13 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

I thought I'd read that Google had voluntarily complied with the rules laid down for the App Store back in March but I don't find the source now.

Looks like Apple got their info from consumer reports.

http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2014/01/google-play-store-lets-your-kid-spend-like-a-drunken-sailor/index.htm
"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example" Mark Twain
"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
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"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example" Mark Twain
"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
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post #14 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

...tattletales 1biggrin.gif

No, I think Apple is tired of being the poster child, always held to a different standard than the rest who fly under the radar.

Why does Apple bashing and trolling make people feel so good?

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Why does Apple bashing and trolling make people feel so good?

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post #15 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dickprinter View Post

No, I think Apple is tired of being the poster child, always held to a different standard than the rest who fly under the radar.

Aren't they in a different standard? Doesn't Apple hold itself to the highest standard? Why are you then surprised when other people try to hold them to that?
"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example" Mark Twain
"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
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"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example" Mark Twain
"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
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post #16 of 45

Now to narc on Amazon for their e-book abuses.

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GOA

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

GOA

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post #17 of 45

They went after Apple because they know that Apple care enough to "make it right" (pay a massive fine).

On the flip side, they know that Google doesn't give a shit and will put up a fight and make it hard, costing loads in court time, so the FTC just won't bother.

 

It's the same as police targeting drivers instead of real law breakers because drivers are an easy target.

post #18 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Andysol View Post

I'm turned off by "freemium" apps.  I'd rather pay money and buy a game like $10 XCom or $3 The Room, than get one free and feel the urge to buy to "help me get along".

I kind of prefer the up-front fee but only if I know the app will be good and I discovered it was far harder to determine this in the App Store than with PC titles. That's where freemium or free-to-play as it's known on Steam is taking off as it's like a demo that you pay for once you find you like it or pay nothing if you don't. The problem is nobody really knows how to do it in a way that's not annoying. EA got burned over this as they advertised one of their games as free but the gameplay is limited if you don't buy in-app purchases:

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2014-07-02-asa-bans-dungeon-keeper-ad-accuses-ea-of-misleading-customers

I suspect the reason that Google got a free pass on this issue is they don't vet apps before they go in the store. They just run their malware check on the apps. Apple actually tests apps for content to ensure no nudity, political material etc is in there so they can prevent the apps going live. Google has plausible deniability by not bothering to check but they should get the same scrutiny for apps that have received complaints and they haven't taken steps to address.
post #19 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

...tattletales 1biggrin.gif

 

Not really. A true "tattletale" or "rat" is someone who goes anonymously behind your back to "inform". If you know the person who provided the information, and they make no bones about it, then it's not really the same.

 

The real tattletales are those who filed patent examinations against Apple. Those requests were anonymous, so people can speculate if it was Google or Samsung or someone else, but we don't really know since nobody has the balls to own up to it.

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Author of The Fuel Injection Bible

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post #20 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post


Aren't they in a different standard? Doesn't Apple hold itself to the highest standard? Why are you then surprised when other people try to hold them to that?

Just because a company holds themselves to a higher standard doesn't mean that they should be governed at that same higher standard. That would mean a company with no or low standard of ethics should be allowed to get away with doing any form of unscrupulous behavior or practice they want…without repercussion.

Why does Apple bashing and trolling make people feel so good?

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Why does Apple bashing and trolling make people feel so good?

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post #21 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post

Aren't they in a different standard? Doesn't Apple hold itself to the highest standard? Why are you then surprised when other people try to hold them to that?

Forum posters frequently use arbitrarily high "standards" invented by them to "prove" some spurious argument about Apple's conduct that they disagree with, or to predict the company's doom. The arbitrary "standards" have nothing to do with the high standards Apple (and its customers) expect from Apple.

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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post #22 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dickprinter View Post

Just because a company holds themselves to a higher standard doesn't mean that they should be governed at that same higher standard. That would mean a company with no or low standard of ethics should be allowed to get away with doing any form of unscrupulous behavior or practice they want…without repercussion.

To whom much is given much is expected. People have given Apple lots of money, their loyalty, their trust, etc, etc...., and expect Apple to not act like every other company.
"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example" Mark Twain
"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
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"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example" Mark Twain
"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
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post #23 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

Forum posters frequently use arbitrarily high "standards" invented by them to "prove" some spurious argument about Apple's conduct that they disagree with, or to predict the company's doom. The arbitrary "standards" have nothing to do with the high standards Apple (and its customers) expect from Apple.

Ahhhh so the high standard is a figment of their imagination. I'll try to remember that.
"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example" Mark Twain
"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
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"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example" Mark Twain
"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
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post #24 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post


Aren't they in a different standard? Doesn't Apple hold itself to the highest standard? Why are you then surprised when other people try to hold them to that?

What a dumb analogy. So any company that makes lower quality products should be held to a lower standard by law?

post #25 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Splif View Post

What a dumb analogy. So any company that makes lower quality products should be held to a lower standard by law?

Faulty logic, just because one thing exists doesn’t mean that the opposite exists as well.
"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example" Mark Twain
"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
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"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example" Mark Twain
"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
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post #26 of 45

If people have not figure it out, the US government is fining companies left and right to fill hole in the budget. The Wall Street and the banking industry imploded on itself and took all our money with them the government went after them for the rest by fining the hell out of them. Since 2007 the US government has been aggressively going after companies for any reason they can come up with.

 

Grant it there are some screwed up companies out there and desire what that get, but it seem like the US government is going after any and all companies even before someone complains or their evidence that they are cheating people or causing any harm. Out government is planning on getting their fair share of the $100B Apple has off shore one lawsuit at a time.

post #27 of 45
God help you if you become a success in America.

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

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post #28 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post


Faulty logic, just because one thing exists doesn’t mean that the opposite exists as well.

I agree, but a company shouldn't be overly scrutinized for scrutinizing themselves. Given the same circumstances, all companies should be looked at equally. All Apple is doing is ensuring that they are not being singled out, which keeps the playing field level.

 

Actually, rather than drawing the FTC's attention towards Google, if Apple ensured their users that "freemium" purchases require adult authorization, I would think they could use that to their advantage as a selling point.

Why does Apple bashing and trolling make people feel so good?

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Why does Apple bashing and trolling make people feel so good?

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post #29 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post

Ahhhh so the high standard is a figment of their imagination. I'll try to remember that.

I said the standard was arbitrary, custom crafted to support an argument about Apple's failure to meet it. Try to keep up.

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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post #30 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dickprinter View Post

I agree, but a company shouldn't be overly scrutinized for scrutinizing themselves. Given the same circumstances, all companies should be looked at equally. All Apple is doing is ensuring that they are not being singled out, which keeps the playing field level.

Actually, rather than drawing the FTC's attention towards Google, if Apple ensured their users that "freemium" purchases require adult authorization, I would think they could use that to their advantage as a selling point.

Agreed, but the reason the FTC investigated Apple was because of the outcry of Apple's customers. They didn't pick on Apple because they just felt like it. If there's a similar problem with the Google Play Store then that too should be investigated, but I don't think it's Apple's responsibility to tell the FTC to do such investigation.
"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example" Mark Twain
"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
Reply
"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example" Mark Twain
"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
Reply
post #31 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post

To whom much is given much is expected. People have given Apple lots of money, their loyalty, their trust, etc, etc...., and expect Apple to not act like every other company.

Except we are not talking about people, we are talking about a government commission. Person A should be subject to the same amount of legal scrutiny as person B regardless of the personal ethical standars that each hold themselves to.
Quote:
Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post

Agreed, but the reason the FTC investigated Apple was because of the outcry of Apple's customers. They didn't pick on Apple because they just felt like it. If there's a similar problem with the Google Play Store then that too should be investigated, but I don't think it's Apple's responsibility to tell the FTC to do such investigation.

Apple already settled with their customers in civil court (on very generous terms) without the FTC getting involved, so I have a hard time believing that this investigation had anything to do with appeasing the customers.
post #32 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post


Faulty logic, just because one thing exists doesn’t mean that the opposite exists as well.

No, that is what you are saying. We are talking about the law being applied equally.


Edited by Splif - 7/9/14 at 6:31pm
post #33 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dickprinter View Post
 

I agree, but a company shouldn't be overly scrutinized for scrutinizing themselves. Given the same circumstances, all companies should be looked at equally. All Apple is doing is ensuring that they are not being singled out, which keeps the playing field level.

 

Actually, rather than drawing the FTC's attention towards Google, if Apple ensured their users that "freemium" purchases require adult authorization, I would think they could use that to their advantage as a selling point.

You agree with what? That the law should not apply equally to companies that are doing the same thing because one company is perceived by consumers & itself to have a higher standard?


Edited by Splif - 7/9/14 at 6:29pm
post #34 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Splif View Post

No, that is what you are saying. We are talking about the law being applied equally.

It's still not Apple's place to see that the law is applied equally. The side effect of having users that are more educated, and of a higher economical status is that they call politicians when they can’t get a problem rectified. Enough calls to enough politicians gets the attention of a government agency.
"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example" Mark Twain
"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
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"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example" Mark Twain
"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
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post #35 of 45
Companies won't admit to wrong-doing if it's a third party. Especially if they are making money off of it.

Premium Text Message fraud? Oh the customer was an idiot.
Freemium in-app purchase fraud? Oh the customer was an idiot.
You can also put "blame a kid" in there.

One place I worked for, customers routinely pulled the "blame a kid" excuse because they or their kid put their cell phone number into one of those "text ##### to win a (item)" scams. I can't believe how long these were allowed to continue, as I started seeing them in 2004 when text messages were separate packages.

In those cases I told the customers that I would be disabling the text message support on their devices as a condition of refunding the money (which wasn't company policy, company policy was to deny all credit and have them sort it out with the third party, who often had no dispute mechanism.) The wireless company was getting some % of this fraud and was not incentivized to punish the third parties. I consider it "doing the right thing" by making whoever audits the credits see exactly what is being credited and why.
post #36 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post

but I don't think it's Apple's responsibility to tell the FTC to do such investigation.

They didn't tell the FTC to do anything. They passed information along from a third party source about the Play store policies. It's okay to send emails containing information, right?

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

John C. Dvorak, 2007
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post #37 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

They didn't tell the FTC to do anything. They passed information along from a third party source about the Play store policies. It's okay to send emails containing information, right?

Where I'm from that's called 'dry snitching'.
"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example" Mark Twain
"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
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"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example" Mark Twain
"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
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post #38 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post

Where I'm from that's called 'dry snitching'.

What are you trying to say?

Apple holds themselves to a higher standard, so they deserve more scrutiny from the law.

But at the same time, if they demand equal treatment under the law, they somehow have low standards (by allowing themselves to sink to snitching)?

That would be a circular argument except that your premise is the exact contradiction of your conclusion.
post #39 of 45
Quote:
Originally Posted by iaeen View Post

What are you trying to say?

Apple holds themselves to a higher standard, so they deserve more scrutiny from the law.

But at the same time, if they demand equal treatment under the law, they somehow have low standards (by allowing themselves to sink to snitching)?

Like Clint Eastwood said in Unforgiven, "deserve's got nothing to do with it". People are going expect Apple to act a certain way whether it deserves it or not.
"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example" Mark Twain
"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
Reply
"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example" Mark Twain
"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
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post #40 of 45
FTC Just announced they're suing Amazon over in app purchases... could Google be next?
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