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EU Finds Apple Lacking in Efforts to Address In-App Payment Issues

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Original poster
Apr 12, 2001
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The European Commission announced today that Apple has not adequately addressed the issue of unauthorized in-app purchases, providing "no concrete and immediate solutions" to the problem, reports Reuters. This subject of in-app purchases within free apps was the focus of a recent EU investigation following complaints from several consumer groups in European Union member countries.

Apple said in a statement that it would address these concerns, but failed to disclose when and how it would make any necessary changes.
Apple takes great pride in leading the industry in parental controls that are incredibly easy to use and help ensure a great experience for parents and children on the App Store. The parental controls in iOS are strong, intuitive and customizable. And over the last year we made sure any app which enables customers to make in-app purchases is clearly marked. We've also created a Kids Section on the App Store with even stronger protections to cover apps designed for children younger than 13.

These controls go far beyond the features of others in the industry. But we are always working to strengthen the protections we have in place, and we're adding great new features with iOS 8, such as Ask to Buy, giving parents even more control over what their kids can buy on the App Store.

Our goal is to continue to provide the best experience for our customers and we will continue to work with the EC member states to respond to their concerns.
Apple faces legal action from European Union member countries if it is found to be in violation of the EU consumer protection law. The company currently is being investigated by Italy's Antitrust and Competition Authority, which is reviewing in-app purchasing policies for apps that are labeled as "free." Apple faced similar scrutiny in the US, recently settling with the FTC in an agreement that provided $32 million in refunds to parents whose children purchased unauthorized in-app items.

Apple's lawyers had tattled on Google to the FTC in an effort to point out that Apple was not alone in experiencing issues with unauthorized in-app purchases by children, but the EU today praised Google for its changes to address the problem, including moves to ban the use of the word "free" when referring to apps with in-app purchases.

Apple has implemented a series of changes in recent versions of iOS that prevent errant in-app purchases. iOS now requires users to enter their passcode before initiating an in-app purchase, notifies consumers before an in-app purchase is made and obtains express consent from consumers before billing them for an in-app purchase. More recently, Apple added an "Offers In-App Purchases" disclosure to app detail pages and inserted an "In-App Purchases" label for apps listed in its featured Top App Charts

Article Link: EU Finds Apple Lacking in Efforts to Address In-App Payment Issues
 

JAT

macrumors 603
Dec 31, 2001
6,473
124
Mpls, MN
I'm torn. Whiny, idiot parents deserve whatever they give themselves. OTOH, I detest IAP, go ahead and curtail it.
 
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SDavidson

macrumors newbie
May 28, 2014
6
0
And so they should. Apple is pretty much playing the dangerous game of monopoly - something that here in the EU takes very seriously!
 
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Lancetx

macrumors 68000
Aug 11, 2003
1,986
618
Texas
Same opinion here, parents have plenty enough tools to prevent IAPs from occurring so there is no excuse anymore. But on the other hand, IAPs need to die a quick death. They're an absolute scourge.
 
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ThisIsNotMe

Suspended
Aug 11, 2008
1,849
1,062
Always find it laughable that governments go after companies for irresponsible parenting.
 
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G4DP

macrumors 65816
Mar 28, 2007
1,451
3
I find parents' knowledge about their own technology lacking.

Over the past 10 years Apple have appealed to the dumbest possible level. Continually lowering the level of intelligence required to use there hardware/software.

An issue of this sort was always going to come back to bit them in the bottom.
 
Comment

AdonisSMU

macrumors 604
Oct 23, 2010
6,743
2,287
Apple should change the labeling of in app purchasing apps to paid instead of free. Or create a different category for a hybrid on their charts.
 
Comment

whooleytoo

macrumors 604
Aug 2, 2002
6,585
674
Cork, Ireland.
It'd probably be in Apple's interest to have a simple-to-use guest/child mode so you can hand your phone to someone else can they can't make purchases or view certain apps; and have retail staff offer to explain to parent-customers how to use it.

Shouldn't be too much effort, is a bullet point feature you can promote, and might help cut off lawsuits like this one.
 
Comment

Daveoc64

macrumors 601
Jan 16, 2008
4,072
86
Bristol, UK
Over the past 10 years Apple have appealed to the dumbest possible level. Continually lowering the level of intelligence required to use there hardware/software.

An issue of this sort was always going to come back to bit them in the bottom.

Apple's approach of "dumbing" things down generally involves not offering the user any options.

One of the most frustrating things I remember about iOS was the way that users are prompted for passwords to install free content. I'm sure that's one of the problems here - by entering a password to install a "free" app, parents then make it possible for in-app purchases to be made for a short period without any further prompting.
 
Comment

Tubamajuba

macrumors 68020
Jun 8, 2011
2,108
2,133
here
Apple has implemented a series of changes in recent versions of iOS that prevent errant in-app purchases. iOS now requires users to enter their passcode before initiating an in-app purchase, notifies consumers before an in-app purchase is made and obtains express consent from consumers before billing them for an in-app purchase. More recently, Apple added an "Offers In-App Purchases" disclosure to app detail pages and inserted an "In-App Purchases" label for apps listed in its featured Top App Charts

How is this not enough? You can't initiate an IAP without entering your passcode and/or password and confirming your purchase. You can completely disable IAPs if you like.

At some point, it's the user's responsibility to learn how to use the functionality that the device manufacturer has given them, whether it's an iPhone or an Android phone. It seems as if the EU actively discourages people from thinking for themselves.
 
Comment

Plutonius

macrumors G3
Feb 22, 2003
8,800
7,992
New Hampshire, USA
Why doesn't the EU then tell Apple specifically how they want the fix implemented and when they want it done by ? It seems very foolish to let a company say they would handle it, not get a timeframe, and then complain when the company doesn't implement the fix a way you like it or in the timeframe you wanted ?
 
Comment

TWSS37

macrumors 65816
Feb 4, 2011
1,107
232
Really unsure what else Apple (or Google) needs to do at this point. The more I read about these, the less I think the problems are with children buying items unbeknownst to parents but rather quiet lobbying to end start ups that generate so much revenue from IAP as opposed to the traditional paid app method that larger publishers use.
 
Comment

Dave-Z

macrumors 6502a
Jun 26, 2012
858
1,411
  1. Don't add/leave a credit card on your iTunes account.
  2. Don't let your children use your Apple ID.
  3. Require a password for in-app purchases.
  4. Disable in-app purchases.

Clearly Apple "has not adequately addressed the issue of unauthorized in-app purchases." :rolleyes:
 
Comment

Hitch08

macrumors 6502
Oct 21, 2008
352
12
Over the past 10 years Apple have appealed to the dumbest possible level. Continually lowering the level of intelligence required to use there hardware/software.

An issue of this sort was always going to come back to bit them in the bottom.

My son did a series of in app purchases with his iPad. Although we spoke with him about it, it was a parenting failure. We now have him set up to use gift cards.
 
Comment

Piggie

macrumors G3
Feb 23, 2010
8,687
3,151
I 100% agree that free should be free, and the word free is being used to breaking point here.

Free, but so limited or designed to not be very usable unless you pay should not be free.

I have said for YEARS now there should be 3 categories, and free should mean free, which is either totally free or free supported by adverts.

Demos or freeish stuff that wants money to make more usable should be in it's own category.
 
Comment

Rogifan

macrumors Core
Nov 14, 2011
22,257
27,959
Apple should change the labeling of in app purchasing apps to paid instead of free. Or create a different category for a hybrid on their charts.

They should only do that if IAP is required for the app to work (like the Microsoft a Office apps). An app like Paper shouldn't be because you can use it without paying for anything.
 
Comment

rmatthewware

macrumors 6502
Jul 22, 2009
493
126
Next version of iOS to require a special passcode, which can only be obtained through EU headquarters, for each in-app purchase.
 
Comment

makitango

macrumors regular
Apr 15, 2012
187
255
I live in the EU and this is just a stupid bad joke, like when they banned the last Mac Pro for sale here in the EU. They got easy minds in terms of ACTA, TTIP and stuff like that, and we can't even undo it because there is no one who stands for the rights of the people. Not just our citizen but even our politicians get spied on in realtime and they can't even say a word about it. But they can always know jack about everything and judge without even looking at the topic. Apple makes it easy enough already with loads of parenting controls, and everyone who enters their credit card info on a device and then hands it over to someone else should know that control is no longer in their hands. The Apple Store guys are happy to assist during setup or during the purchase/demo of a device to show important stuff, so there is really no reason to go haywire on this. Other platforms/companies care way less about user control and don't get warranted either. As this is still a sensitive topic within Apple, these payments can almost instantly be undone as there are a lot of lawsuits in that area and Apple seems to have a pro-user stance on this.
 
Comment

SusanK

macrumors 68000
Oct 9, 2012
1,675
2,654
Free should be free

I disagree that bad parenting is involved. Leaving a child locked in a hot car is bad parenting. Not being completely aware of every possible back door charge on an item listed as FREE is not.

The three categories of apps sounds reasonable.

Before anyone goes nuts on me. No, I don't have kids to lock in a hot car or make purchases from a free app.
 
Comment
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