At the end of last year, the European Commission told Google and Apple to address issues around in-app purchases (IAP) – particularly as they mislead unsupervised kids into unwittingly racking up huge bills for their parents to pay.
Consumer Reports earlier discovered that Google grants a full 30 minutes to make purchases at the App store when no additional authorisation is required (after obviously making one in-app purchase requiring a password).
According to a recent statement released by the Commission, the EU is happy with Google’s response for a series of consumer protection changes that it will put in place by the end of September.
“These include not using the word “free” at all when games contain in-app purchases, developing targeted guidelines for its app developers to prevent direct exhortation to children as defined under EU law and time-framed measures to help monitor apparent breaches of EU consumer laws. It has also adapted its default settings, so that payments are authorised prior to every in-app purchase, unless the consumer actively chooses to modify these settings,” the Commission said.
Meanwhile, the EU has criticised Apple for not providing any timeline for how it will sort out the same complaints by outraged parents.
“Although, regrettably, no concrete and immediate solutions have been made by Apple to date to address the concerns linked in particular to payment authorisation, Apple has proposed to address those concerns. However, no firm commitment and no timing have been provided for the implementation of such possible future changes. CPC authorities will continue to engage with Apple to ensure that it provides specific details of changes required and put its practices into line with the common position,” the Commission added.
Responding to the criticism levied by the Commission, Apple outlined its efforts to prevent IAP abuse in its App Store.
The company said in a statement: “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.”
The European Commission, on the other hand, has directed EU nations to decide on their own how to punish developers that are currently facing legal action. It said it would continue to monitor the issue though.