Tuesday 23 January 2018

Apple's €24m app-bill refund to US parents won't happen here

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks about the number of Apps downloaded. Photo: Reuters
Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks about the number of Apps downloaded. Photo: Reuters

Adrian Weckler Technology Editor

APPLE has no plans to repeat here the €24m payment to US parents over app purchases completed by their children.

The tech giant has paid out the sum to American parents who complained they did not have sufficient warning about so-called 'in-app purchases' when allowing their children to download and play games on iPhones, iPods and iPads.

But Apple's move, which is the result of a negotiation process with the American Federal Trade Commission (FTC), is restricted to the US.

The FTC said Apple's processes were not vigorous enough, a charge the tech giant denies. In-app purchases by children have become a bugbear for parents, with many free games only allowing progress if small payments are made via the user's app store account -- typically backed up by a credit card belonging to the adult who initiated the account.

In Ireland, the company has advised parents to report a problem at iTunes Support on Reportaproblem.apple.com.

Apple recently tightened up its rules in relation to in-app purchases for children's games, with new stipulations for developers of such apps to build in safety controls.

In an email to Apple staff, chief executive Tim Cook explained the background to the case. "Last year, we set out to refund any in-app purchase which may have been made without a parent's permission," he said. "We wanted to reach every customer who might have been affected, so we sent emails to 28 million App Store customers, anyone who had made an in-app purchase in a game designed for kids. When some emails bounced, we mailed the parents postcards. In all, we received 37,000 claims and we will be reimbursing each one.

"It doesn't feel right for the FTC to sue over a case that had already been settled. To us, it smacked of double jeopardy. However, the consent decree the FTC proposed does not require us to do anything we weren't already going to do, so we decided to accept it rather than take on a long and distracting legal fight."

Irish Independent

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