U.S. Regulators Looking Into Kids' Overspending on In App Purchases

132828 in app purchase dialog

The Washington Post reports that the U.S. Federal Trade Commission has agreed to take a look at Apple's in app purchasing mechanism as complaints of children being able to spend hundreds of dollars on in-game purchases have continued to rise. The review is being sparked by a letter from U.S. Represenative Ed Markey expressing concern over how such purchases are being marketed to young children who do not understand the money involved.

FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz wrote in a letter to Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) that the practice of "in-app purchases" for certain applications on Apple iPhones, iPads and iPods raised concerns that consumers may not fully understand the ramifications of those charges. The Washington Post wrote about hefty charges amassed by children using Apple device games that public interest groups said should not be included in software geared for children. Some parents said their children didn't understand the difference between real and pretend purchases for items such as $99 barrels of Smurfberries on the Capcom Interactive game Smurfs Village.

"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."

In app purchases generally require the same password authentication process as regular App Store purchases, a step that should limit children's ability to purchase in-app content as long as their parents have not shared their iTunes Store passwords with them. But Apple has enabled a 15-minute unlock period following password authentication to allow users to make multiple purchases without having to enter their password every time. It is believed that the majority of these occurrences of children racking up large in app purchases have come after a parent had recently entered his or her password (such as in downloading the app for the child) and then handed the device over to the child, at which point the child could initiate in app purchases without the need to enter a password.

Apple has reportedly been considering lowering the password window from 15 minutes in hopes of reducing cases of children being able to spend money within applications. The company also offers parental controls built into iOS that allow adults to completely disable in app purchasing, although many casual users may be unaware of the option's existence.

Related Forum: iPhone

Popular Stories

Beyond iPhone 13 Better Blue Face ID Single Camera Hole

10 Reasons to Wait for Next Year's iPhone 17

Monday July 8, 2024 5:00 am PDT by
Apple's iPhone development roadmap runs several years into the future and the company is continually working with suppliers on several successive iPhone models simultaneously, which is why we sometimes get rumored feature leaks so far ahead of launch. The iPhone 17 series is no different – already we have some idea of what to expect from Apple's 2025 smartphone lineup. If you plan to skip...
iPhone 15 Pro Cameras

iPhone 17 Pro Max Will Be First Model to Feature Three 48MP Cameras

Thursday July 11, 2024 12:20 am PDT by
Next year's iPhone 17 Pro Max will feature an upgraded 48-megapixel Tetraprism camera for enhanced photo quality and zoom functionality, according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In his n-iphone-tetraprism-upgrade-ca62dd37e364">latest investor note published to Medium, Kuo said the key specification change would be a 1/2.6" 48MP CIS sensor, up from the 1/3.1" 12MP sensor expected to be used...
iPhone 16 Pro Front Update Blue

iPhone 16 Pro Rumored to Support 40W Fast Charging and 20W MagSafe

Wednesday July 10, 2024 3:57 am PDT by
Apple's forthcoming iPhone 16 Pro and iPhone 16 Pro Max will support 40W wired fast charging and 20W MagSafe charging, claims a rumor currently swirling around China. Right now, iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro models are capable of up to 27W peak charging speeds with an appropriate USB-C power adapter, while official MagSafe chargers from Apple and authorized third parties can wirelessly charge...
AirPods Pro Beta Firmware

Apple Releases New AirPods Pro 2 Beta Firmware With Support for iOS 18 Features

Tuesday July 9, 2024 11:46 am PDT by
Apple today released a second beta firmware for the AirPods Pro 2, including both the Lightning and USB-C versions. The updated firmware has a build number 7A5244b and it is available to developers at the current time. This is the second firmware update that Apple has released since announcing new AirPods Pro 2 features in June. There are several new features that are coming to the AirPods...
Beyond iPhone 13 Better Blue Face ID

iPhone 16 Models Rumored to Have Face ID-Related Design Changes

Tuesday July 9, 2024 9:15 am PDT by
iPhone 16 models coming later this year could have some Face ID-related "design changes," supply chain publication DigiTimes said this week. The original source of this information is British newspaper The Telegraph, which six weeks ago reported that Face ID component supplier Coherent was considering selling or repurposing a manufacturing facility in Newton Aycliffe, a small town in...
orka desktop

MacStadium Releases Free Orka Desktop macOS Virtualization Software

Wednesday July 10, 2024 6:55 am PDT by
Mac cloud services provider MacStadium today unveiled Orka Desktop, a free virtualization tool that allows Mac users to create and manage macOS virtual machines locally via an easy-to-use admin panel. Orka users can create or download custom macOS images locally for their own personal use, or to collaborate with team members using a familiar workflow, versioning, audit, and review controls....