FTC urged to investigate in-app purchases for kids games

| Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

After the giant Smurfs debacle last November, there’s no surprise that lawmakers are currently urging the FTC to investigate the phenomenon known as free games that provide in-app purchases.

Don’t be alarmed. The Democratic lawmakers aren’t out to thwart in-app purchases on a whole. Instead, they’re looking into whether or not kids games that happen to be free should be allowed to have in-app purchases.

Three democrats, Rep. Edward J. Markey, Sens. Amy Klobuchar, and Mark Pryor, all sent letters to Jon Leibowitz (FTC Chairman), asking the FTC to look into the Smurfs Villiage application, as well as others that have in-app purchases.

If you’re unaware of the problem, kids were purchasing “Smurfberries” in application, without their parents’ permission. The berries were used to speed up gameplay. Some kids were racking up huge bills, and parents were caught off-guard when their credit card bills rolled in. The problem, according to some, is that parents were misled because Smurfs’ Village was labelled as “free” on the App Store.

Most iOS users are now aware that “free” doesn’t always mean no-cost, but it’s understandable that some parents wouldn’t be aware of in-app purchasing. This is what happens when parents rely on meaningless rating systems instead of taking the time to try out games for themselves before handing them over to parents.

What do you think? Should Apple be responsible for in-app purchases, or does the responsibility fall on the shoulders of parents?  In my opinion, this falls on parents shoulders. Relying on someone else to police your kids is a recipe for failure.

Article Via The Washington Post

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