Apple 'not stopping children from running up bills'
THE EU Commission has said it is regrettable that Apple has still failed to come up with concrete measures to protect children from racking up bills while playing games on iPhones or iPads.
It said that while Google is making changes to its app-selling system to prevent inadvertent in-app purchases, Apple has still failed to commit to necessary changes.
In-app purchases are those where you download extra credits or features while playing a game online that can result in high extra costs – children have rung up thousands of euro in charges in the past.
The Commission said that following a large number of complaints in EU countries concerning in-app purchases, it had joined forces with national authorities to find solutions.
There were particular concerns about inadvertent purchases by children, it said.
It had agreed a common position with national authorities last December and had informed Apple and Google of what needed to be done.
This included requirements that games advertised as "free" should not mislead consumers about the costs involved.
It also called for consumers to be informed about payment arrangements and said they should not be debited by default settings without their consent.
Traders are also required to provide an email address so consumers can contact them with queries or complaints.
The EU said that Google had decided on a number of changes which would be completed by the end of September including not using the word "free" if the game contained in-app purchases, as well as guidelines for app developers to prevent direct exhortation to children.
An Apple spokesperson said that it took great pride in leading the industry with parental controls that were easy to use.
"The parental controls in iOS are strong, intuitive and customisable. And over the last year we've made sure any app which enables customers to make in-app purchases is clearly marked," he said.
Apple had also created a kids section in its App Store with stronger protection for apps aimed at children under 13.