Apple Drops A Dime On Google For FTC Probe Of In-App Purchases By Kids

Every parent fears it: In addition to the physical danger to your expensive tablet or smartphone when you hand it over to your child to play with, you’re always worried that they’ll go on an unauthorized in-app spending spree and get you slapped with a monstrous bill. Apple got body slammed by the FTC over its in-app purchasing practices this January, and now Cupertino is ensuring that its chief competitor is getting the same treatment.

According to Politico, Apple general counsel sent a message to FTC Chairperson Edith Ramirez and Democratic Commissioner Julie Brill hinting strongly that perhaps they should have a look at Google’s practices in that area, as well.

phone booth
(Credit: N9LXI via Wikipedia)

Considering the situation, Apple has good reason to be salty. The FTC ordered the company to pay refunds to consumers totalling $32.5 million for parent-unauthorized kids’ app purchases and also change its practices to close down the 15-minute window wherein kids could freely make purchases without having to enter a password again.

“This settlement is a victory for consumers harmed by Apple’s unfair billing, and a signal to the business community: whether you’re doing business in the mobile arena or the mall down the street, fundamental consumer protections apply,” said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez in a press release. “You cannot charge consumers for purchases they did not authorize.”

Angry Birds in-app purchases
A black hole

She’s absolutely right, and forcing Apple to make amends is certainly fair. However, Apple is completely justified in wanting the rules applied equally to everyone, and Google has some of the same issues with in-app purchases that Apple does (er, did). That Apple squealed on Google could be seen as dirty, but hey, competition is competition.