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Stealing From A Baby: Apple Stole Millions From Parents by Letting Their Kids Make Purchases Through 'Free' Game Apps

Photo by Nisha A.
Photo by Nisha A.
Apple misleading children on 'free' apps, says European Commission. EC warns Apple could face legal action if it continues to delay changes to its app policies.

By Andrew Trotman
Apple could face legal action after failing to tackle the problem of children racking up huge bills by making in-app purchases, the European Commission (EC) has said.

In its latest findings into how internet giants charge for programs downloaded onto tablets and mobile phones, the commission declared that Apple has not committed to changing its policies.

The EC's main concern is that games are often labelled as "free to download" but are not "free to play", with purchases automatically debited from a registered credit card. More than half of online games in the EU are advertised as "free", the Commission says, despite many carrying hidden costs.

In one case, an eight-year-old British girl managed to run up a bill of £4,000 making "in-app" purchases from games such as My Horse and Smurfs' Village. In that instance, Apple reimbursed the girl's father.

The commission has pushed for Apple to comply on four key points:
1) Games advertised as "free" should not mislead consumers about the true costs involved;

2) Games should not contain direct exhortation to children to buy items in a game or to persuade an adult to buy items for them;

3) Consumers should be adequately informed about the payment arrangements for purchases and should not be debited through default settings without consumers’ explicit consent;

4) Traders should provide an email address so that consumers can contact them in case of queries or complaints.
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