Apple Needled By European Commission Over App Policies
The European Commission applauded Google for making moves to address in-app purchase problems. Apple, it said, has done no such thing.The European Commission (EC) has chastised Apple for failing to make changes to help prevent children from making inadvertent purchases within mobile apps or parents from receiving unexpected bills. The EC announced July 18 that it has joined forces with national authorities to address the issue, and their actions are delivering "tangible results"—just not from Apple. In December the commission communicated certain points to Apple, Google and the Interactive Software Federation of Europe that games advertised as "free" shouldn't be misleading about the costs involved, that games shouldn't encourage children to make purchases, that payment arrangements should be communicated clearly and not debited through default settings, and that apps should provide clearly stated email addresses to which consumers can communicate questions or complaints. In February, the commission hosted Apple, Google and others during multi-day discussions of the "booming" app economy and how they might all address problems that have arisen from so-called freemium apps—apps that are free to download but offer purchasable items during play, or for additional features.
In January, Apple settled a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), by agreeing to pay a minimum of $32.5 million to consumers who received unexpected bills—often after signing into the App Store and then handing an iPhone or iPad to a child, not realizing that the iOS default setting left open a 15-minute purchase window during which the input of a password was unnecessary to make purchases.